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How to make your child smart in math at home. We bring you some useful tips

Team ParentCircle Team ParentCircle 9 Mins Read

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Your child is interested in math, but you're confused about how to make math learning fun at home. Is math all about addition and subtraction? Can little kids be taught math? Read on to know more

How to make your child smart in math at home. We bring you some useful tips

Every year, National Mathematics Day is celebrated on December 22, which marks the birth anniversary of mathematical legend, Srinivasa Ramanujan. A child prodigy, he wasn't introduced to formal mathematics till he turned 10 years old! Until he was 16, he had never seen a proper mathematical book, and he never had any formal training in math. But like most children, the young Ramanujan had a natural curiosity for numbers and patterns.

Yes, you don't need thick books or extra classes to help your little one develop an interest in math. So this National Mathematics Day, we urge you to reimagine how to make math learning at home more fun and hands-on for your child.

Benefits of a strong math foundation in early childhood

  • Math is all around us. We use it more often than we think-from recipes and shopping to even gardening and art.
  • Research has shown a strong link between a young child's numeracy skills and her future academic achievements. Children who have a strong foundation in math in their early years go on to be successful in math and in academics.
  • Math activities help develop other skills in your child, such as logical reasoning, critical thinking, creativity, and problem-solving.
  • Eighty percent of the jobs in the future will need mathematical skills, so starting math education early is important and easy too.

Why do we lose interest in math

If you place two bowls of chocolates in front of a toddler, the chances are he will grab the bowl that has more chocolates in it. Yes, toddlers, and even babies as young as a few months old, intuitively understand the concept of quantity. Yet, when we introduce math in a formal way, many children seem to lose interest in math. Why is that so?

It's usually because of three important reasons:

  1. We often pass on our own biases against math to our children.
  2. When teaching young children, we focus on math symbols, terms, methods and abstractions, instead of helping them learn the fundamental concepts in a hands-on, fun way.
  3. We tend to place a lot more emphasis on whether the solution to a problem is 'right,' rather than focusing on how the child is thinking about the problem and arriving at the solution. We expect the child to be perfect and make no mistakes.

What can you do to instill a love of math in your child?

  1. Keep your preconceived notions aside. You may have found math challenging or you may have enjoyed it. But, in front of your child, avoid saying things like, "Math is hard," "It's so easy," "I hate math" and so on. Instead, talk about how you solved problems, the process you used and what made it interesting for you.
  2. Integrate math into your child's everyday routine. Learning by doing is critical to mathematical skill development. You too can encourage the mathematical genius in your child by integrating math into your child's daily life and doing simple activities at home. Use math vocabulary and create opportunities at home to introduce various math concepts.
  3. Get your child to think about the process. When your child solves a problem, instead of saying it's right or wrong, ask open-ended questions such as:
  • How did you get that answer?
  • What did you do?
  • Tell me how you figured it out.

Even if your child didn't arrive at the right answer, just getting him to think about what he did to arrive at his answer will help him figure out the solution on his own. When you turn these mistakes into learning opportunities for your child, it strengthens his concepts and knowledge of the subject.

Counting and numbers

The first mathematical concept parents introduce to their children is counting from 1 to 10 (and on and on), and then they jump to written math activities with the children. But there's so much more to counting than just reciting numbers or writing them. Your child needs to understand the one-to-one correspondence between a number-name and the object being counted, the importance of the order of numbers, that the last number-name the child says while counting a set of objects tells you the 'quantity' in that set, that a 'bigger' number indicates 'more' quantity and so on.

So you would want your child to understand numbers and not just simply recognize, recite and write them, right? For this, experiential or hands-on learning is important. Here are some tips you can use to help your child learn to count at home:

1. Count Everything

  • Counting can be easily done with everyday household items. When your child counts things around her every day, she begins to better understand the concept of counting and numbers.
  • In the kitchen, ask your child to count apples, spoons, lemons, etc. Have her bring you 4 plates or 3 napkins to help you set the table.
  • If you are out in the garden, ask her to count the number of trees, number of flowers, number of birds, and so on.
  • When you go grocery shopping, have her help you count the fruits you need to buy.
  • Get her to count the number of steps you need to climb to walk from downstairs to upstairs.
  • Have your child jump 5 times or hop 10 times or throw the ball 3 times.

2. Introduce Math Vocabulary

Just like you introduce your child to different words like apple, ball, blue, large, or whale, make an effort to introduce math vocabulary, such as 'total,' 'altogether,' 'remaining,' 'greater than' and 'lesser than.' By introducing such words early on, you are familiarizing your child with the math vocabulary she'll encounter later in school. And solving word problems won't be a 'problem' for your child in the future! For example, ask your child questions such as:

  • If we need one plate each for mom, dad, sister, and you, how many plates do we need altogether?
  • If I gave you 5 cookies and you give one to your friend, how many will you have left?
  • If there are 2 blue flowers and 3 yellow flowers in the vase, how many flowers are there in total in the vase? Are there more blue flowers or yellow flowers in the vase?
  • You could also do a simple counting activity like this one where you introduce math vocabulary:

How-to Steps:

a. Take a large tray and keep a few items on it, such as blocks, pencils, and erasers.

b. Now ask your child to count all the items on the tray.

c. Add one more item and say to your child, "We counted 5 items. Now I have added one more. How many items are there altogether now?" Let your child count all the items again if he can't instantly answer the question. Whether he answers right or wrong, ask, "How did you figure that?"

d. Repeat the same activity, but this time remove one item and ask, "How many items do we have left on the tray?"

e. To make it more challenging, you could ask questions such as, "How many more do I need to add to have 6 items?" or "How many should I remove to have only 4 items on the tray?"

f. Split the items into two trays. Now get your child to count the items on each tray. Which tray has more items? Which one has less?

Math is more than just numbers

There's so much more to math than just numbers! From shapes and patterns to sorting and measurement, you can do so many fun math activities with your child.

Sorting

  1. Put different colored blocks in a tub. Get your child to sort the blocks by color.
  2. While doing laundry, get your child to sort by innerwear and outerwear. To make it challenging, have him sort clothes by type (skirts, shirts, socks, underwear, etc.) or by color or by who they belong to.
  3. Have your child sort the groceries you brought home.

Shapes and Patterns

  1. Roll out large-sized rotis. Give your child different-shaped cookie cutters to make rotis in fun shapes! To make it challenging, ask him to find things around the house that he can use to cut the roti in different shapes, such as a bowl, the lid of a box, or a funnel.
  2. As you walk around the house or neighborhood, play the 'I Spy' game where your child has to find something that is shaped like the shape you call out, say a 'triangle' or 'square.'
  3. When you ask your child to bring you something, describe that object with its shape: "Can you please bring me the circle-shaped plate?" or "Can you bring me the square-shaped box?"
  4. Draw different shapes on the ground and have your child jump on a shape or walk along with the shape.
  5. Ask thinking questions such as, "Why is this a triangle?" or "Why is this not a triangle?"
  6. Get your child pattern blocks or different cut-out shapes. Have her create various patterns with them. You could also create a pattern and then have her copy you.

Measurements

  1. Get your child to measure the length of different things using a book, his feet, or even a scale.
  2. Place two objects side by side. Which object is bigger? Which is smaller? Why? (Here your child may tell you one object is bigger because it's taller or longer, or thicker or heavier.)
  3. Give a tub of water or rice and different bowls. Have your child measure how many cups of water or rice will fill each of the bowls. Here you are introducing the concept of volume.

Other fun ways to get your child to fall in love with math


How To Make Your Child Smart In Math At Home
  • Read math stories
  • Sing math rhymes
  • Play board games that involve number cards, dice and counting
  • Play indoor games and outdoor games that involve shapes and counting such as hopscotch or even tossing a specified number of balls into a basket.

As you can see, it's easy to include math activities in your everyday life. When you 'teach' math, you risk your child fearing it, but instead, 'practice' math regularly and watch your little one fall in love with it!

We hope you have a wonderful time doing these activities together with your child.

Happy National Mathematics Day!

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