Kiran is one of them—”a horrible math-phobic,” she says. After struggling through algebra and statistics in high school and college, helping her 9-year-old son Ved with math homework makes her feel like saying, ‘Aaarghh, this is hard! I know why you don’t get it’.
Yet she might be unconsciously teaching her child to fear math. A parent who reacts to a child’s math questions or homework by saying, “I have never been good in math,” or, “I haven’t done math in 20 years,” conveys to kids that math is daunting and they probably can’t do it either.
Parents don’t have to know math to help kids get off to a good start. When kids start bringing math homework home, many parents have to break old habits of emphasizing good scores and grades, and praise them instead for “trying hard and using multiple approaches to figure out problems”. Struggling alongside your child can actually be helpful, a parent who is comfortable with trying and failing can teach a child how to look up things and grapple with challenges.
If you haven’t a clue how to help, avoid voicing your anxiety or frustration. Instead, tell your child your time together would better be spent in other ways, and offer to get a tutor or another person to help.
Some of the simple things you can do at home to instill your child’s interest in Math’s –
There are many opportunities for math at the supermarket, here are just a few ideas. Let your child count out the items and put them into the trolley e.g. Ask them to find five apples/six onions. This will develop your child’s counting as well as independence. Use mathematical language such as ‘one more’, ‘one less’, ‘less than’, ‘more than’, ‘half a dozen’ etc. Challenge them to work out the total of two items. Take time to talk about shapes around you such as different shaped food packaging. Introduce 2D and 3D shapes. Can they spot a cylinder, pyramid, cube, cuboids etc. Encourage your child to count the items in the basket. Can you go to the checkout for less than eight items or do we have more than that? Questions like this develop mathematical problems solving skills.
The outdoor environment provides an ideal opportunity to develop mathematical understanding in a practical way. When outside in the garden encourage your child to get involved by letting your child count out the seeds or plant pots. Finding the tallest and shortest plants in the garden. Can they find a plant the same height as them? Taller than them? Shorter than them? If you have a sand pit or go to the beach why not get your child to practice writing their numbers in the sand? Collecting objects to order according to size and shape. Making patterns and shapes using pebbles, colored gravel, shells or sticks.
Snakes and Ladders
This game develops a range of mathematical language and skills through rolling the dice, moving the counters and moving up and down the snakes and ladders.
Ask questions such as: How many more spaces do you need to finish? Can you count on six spaces? What direction are you moving in? You could also introduce positional language such as first, second, third and fourth to discuss who finishes in what position.
Children will develop number recognition, addition and counting.
Ludo is ideal to reinforce counting, colours and shapes whilst being a fun game to play with your child. It is beneficial as it introduces children to a dice and turn taking. It is a brilliant game for position and direction and gives your child an introduction to positional language. Ask questions such as: How can you describe the position of your counter? What direction are we moving the counters in? What shapes can you see? Who has what color counter?