“Why should a Math teacher never call her students average? Because it is a ‘mean’ thing to say!”
“What did the area tell the perimeter while arguing? I’m trying to talk to you, but I feel like you’re just going around my problem.”
In a webinar for parents of students at De La Salle Zobel School, Marshall Cavendish Education shared these math jokes and tips to help parents foster a love for learning primary mathematics in their children.
Be a role model. You may not be a fan of math, but try your best to maintain an upbeat mindset around your child. Don’t simply say that you were never good at it or dismiss their problems with “ask the teacher.”
Instead, encourage them when they get stuck on a problem. Work together until they arrive at a solution—this will increase both children’s overall achievement in mathematics and interest in becoming adults who like numbers.
Find your Why. “Why do I need to learn Math? Can’t I just know how to count money?” Find your authentic answer and explain it to your child.
Hook your kids into meaningful activities with math by doing the groceries or baking. The more time they spend interacting with these tasks, the better they will understand numbers and facts while having fun.
Work together with your child. Is your child struggling with a particular concept? Avoiding math homework? Afraid to show you their math report/grade?
When teaching them, sit side by side, not across. Promise them that they are not alone and that you can work through difficult questions together.
Model your thought process: say each step out loud, ask questions and ask for their opinions.
Use the words, “Can you show me?” “What do you think I should do?” “Do you think the answer should be bigger or smaller than when you…” “Why do you think so?” Communicate to check for misunderstanding and aid conceptual understanding, not just procedural learning.
Surround your child with knowledge. Check your physical surroundings. Do they have any hint of math? How does your study area look?
Use incidental learning and promote the child’s interest by reading and watching videos on math theory in real life (check out SirCumference books or read-alouds on YouTube).
Show your child how you use math in real life: at the supermarket, paying at the car park (cost per hour), or geometry in art.
Exchange math jokes to make learning fun: “What did the triangle say to the circle? You’re pointless!” “Why do plants hate math? Because it gives them square roots.” “Why was the fraction skeptical about marrying the decimal? Because he would have to convert.”
Celebrate small successes. Do you move the goalpost every time your child improves? Did you compare them with others? Does he dread solving math problems? Is he slow at mental calculations?
Keep problem-solving sessions short at first, at most 10-15 minutes/day. Then, as your child starts to look forward to these sessions, give longer problems that require more persistence. Stick to a routine and ensure that your child gets immediate feedback for the work done. Encourage, encourage, encourage!
It’s cool to be smart. Emphasize to children that they should be proud of their abilities. Promote a well-rounded education by introducing mathematicians who contributed in other ways.
For instance, Florence Nightingale is best known for her work as a nurse, but she was also a pioneering statistician.
Use technology. Is your child worried about being labeled? Is his self-esteem being affected? Does he avoid future work with heavy math components (accountant, banker, statistician, nurse, doctor, pharmacist, engineer)?
To stimulate their interest, visit MathScienceNerd (mathsciencenerd.com), a site that normalizes math and science in our daily lives, or Maths History (mathshistory.st-andrews.ac.uk/Biographies/). Visit Marshall Cavendish Education (mceduhub.com) or IXL (sg.ixl.com) for practice. For games, try education.com or mathplayground.com.
Learn with your kids. Children may dread learning if they find it difficult to understand a specific concept. Adults find it hard to teach kids as they, too, have forgotten the concepts.
So, study the subject together with your child. Show your interest and learn together. Find parallels to questions that are similar to what you need to do. View online learning resources from YouTube, What Will I Learn (whatwillilearn.com), Online Live Learning (oll.co) and Khan Academy (khanacademy.org).
Earn-Your-Rights system. Enforce a habit, like solving two questions a day, build up to four, then 10. Chant the 2 and 3 times table before breakfast, 4, 5 and 6 before lunch and 7, 8 and 9 before dinner. After they accomplish it, they get to unlock a privilege they want.
What can you do today to motivate your child? It all starts with you. Check your mindset. Your child mimics your behavior. What words do you use when you and your child discuss math? —contributed INQ