Is your child intimidated by math? Are you intimidated by having to help your child with math? Basic math skills help us manage time and money, understand patterns, solve problems and make key decisions. Yet many children struggle with math. Understanding basic math concepts takes time and practice, as well as help from adults. We can aid our children by understanding how children learn math and incorporating this understanding in our teaching. Below are some tips and tricks to best help children understand and master math concepts that will help them advance both in and out of the classroom.
1. Repetition, repetition, repetition
Remember memorizing times tables? Much of our math skills are learned by repetition. When first learning to count, a preschooler may count their toy cars or dolls over and over again until they have memorized the one to ten number sequence. As kids get older, they use songs and rhymes containing repetition to learn common equations, such as 2+2=4 and any number divided by itself equals one. Encourage your child to keep going over math concepts, saying them out loud, singing them and being exposed to them repetitively. This is why flashcards are often utilized in math learning. When your child correctly recites a math concept, you can video it and play it back to him or her. Repetition helps store information in long-term memory! Quiz your child on the way to school on their math skills. Have your child quiz you. Make it fun!
Children learn math by seeing numbers, equations and mathematical concepts represented by tangible and real-life situations. We can do this by using counting beads, coins, blocks, pictures and random household objects.
For example, to learn that 2+2=4, give two children two apples each. Then ask them to combine their apples and count how many they have altogether. You could even take this representation a step further. Instead of writing 2+2=4 with numerals, they could write it with tally marks (II+II=IIII) and count the marks. The more ways kids see a problem or concept represented, the easier it is to understand and remember it. Again, it’s all about getting creative!
3. Real-life Application
Allow your child to see how math applies to everyday life. This is a great time to dive into some pretend play that fosters your child’s abstract thinking and imagination. Get your child to practice addition and subtraction skills by pretending to be a cashier at a grocery store and having your child buy food from you. Teach about multiplication and division by dividing up pizza slices during a family dinner. Use everyday occurrences such as carrying objects to teach concepts like weight and volume. For example, doing an experiment with your child to see which cup holds the most water can make a concept like volume much more understandable. Free math games allow children to further their skills in a non-traditional and stress free environment. Mobile apps geared towards math also give children another platform to practice these skills. Let technology help you help them!
Math doesn’t have to be intimating. (For anyone!) Use these tips to help make math mastery more attainable for both you and your child. We must make mention of the importance of letting your child take their own approach to learning math. If your child doesn’t like math flashcards, find another way to teach the same skills! Even finding flashcards with your child’s favorite cartoon character could do the trick. Different brains take different strategies. For more about how children learn in their own unique way, see our other article on 4 Ways Kids Learn To Read.