Does the word 'maths' conjure up images of drudgery and fear in your child's mind? We give you exclusive tips to make him fall in love with mathematics.
By Jasmine Kaur
Maths often gets a bad rap for being incomprehensible and complex by both students and their parents. However, more often it’s the fear of maths that puts us off rather than the subject itself. Famous English mathematician G H Hardy wrote in his essay, ‘A Mathematician’s Apology’, ‘Most people are so frightened of the name of mathematics that they are ready, quite unaffectedly, to exaggerate their own mathematical stupidity.’ So, as a parent, it’s your responsibility to make sure that maths does not become a monster that your child must deal with every time he opens his books. Show him how we use basic maths in day-to-day activities like shopping or counting money and that there’s no reason to be terrified of it. If you are still not convinced, here are some ways you can help your child fall in love with maths.
1. Nurture logical thinking: Maths is not just about numbers and equations. It is about using logic to arrive at various kinds of conclusions. So, expose your child to logical problems instead of purely mathematical ones. One way you could do this is by introducing her to riddles. Riddles are a fun way your child can practise applying her logical thinking skills in context to the problem without focussing on numbers.
2. Promote a problem-solving approach: If your child asks you the answer to a maths problem, do not give him the answer straight away. Instead, help him work it out on his own by steering him in the right direction. For instance, you could tell him what part of the problem he might want to focus on and start solving first. This way he will be able to reach the correct answer himself. It might take a few trials and errors, but he will become more confident about his mathematical abilities and less afraid of the subject if he learns how to solve the problem on his own.
3. Encourage reading mystery books: Good mystery books give their readers all the clues to solve the mystery, without arriving at the solution. You can encourage your child to read these books to boost her problem-solving skills. You can ask her to try solving the mystery by herself first rather than having it revealed through the book. In case she is not able to solve it, she can learn from the way the author solves the mystery and use the powers of deduction the next time she comes across a similar problem.
4. Introduce to maths lovers: It might be hard for your child to be excited about maths, if he doesn’t see others around him being excited about the subject. If you can’t be a role model for him, introduce him to people who love the subject. They could be anyone, from your friendly neighbour to a relative who is an expert. If he sees that the subject is loved by many, he might be able to change his attitude toward it.
5. Focus on games based on maths: Well-designed maths games are fun to play and also encourage children to think more strategically and mathematically. These games will give your child an opportunity to explore mathematics outside of academics and have fun while doing it. You can find many maths games on the Internet based on your child’s age and skill level.
6. Give pocket money: Counting money and keeping a track of his expenses is a great way to teach your child how maths is a part of everyday life. Give your child some pocket money and allow him to deal with numbers on his own. The amount of pocket money need not be much. The important lesson is to teach him to figure out how to calculate the money he needs to pay for things and decide if he has enough.
7. Allocate time for maths shows and videos: Encourage your children to watch maths-based shows. This way, they will not see it as studying but learn a few tricks while getting entertained. You can find such shows on the television or the Internet. You can also find other creative maths videos, such as rhyme and song videos, that help children learn maths through music.
These tips will help your child develop an interest in maths and not see it as a subject to be scared of. But, remember that a love for learning is built over time and you must not expect her to start doing maths equations right away.
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