Mathematical concepts are around us all the time in our daily life. We don’t want our children to fear them and not understand them. We need to help them grow their confidence. We start off by laying a strong mathematical foundation. Without this, students experience Maths failures and it embarrasses them. It has been observed that generally, students develop a negative attitude towards Maths from their family members or peers who have a fear of Maths. Students may also dislike the subject if they have insensitive Maths teachers.
Here is a guide about what you can do to help.
Games are the easiest and most engaging way for children to learn and understand new concepts. Through games, children learn without bringing attention to the challenges as it is highly enjoyable. If you join in, they would have even more fun!
Find a great tutor
If children find an answer to their ‘why’ and ‘how’ related to various mathematical concepts, they develop a proper conceptual understanding of the subject and stop fearing it. If this is something you cannot personally do (it really is not the parents’ role) and the teachers at school just aren’t cutting it, you can find them a supportive, encouraging tutor. The tutor will work with your child, not only on Maths, but building their confidence within it.
Say yes to making mistakes
Children can dislike Maths because it is a subject that requires an answer. They are scared of getting it wrong. People are wired in a way where they don’t like being incorrect. By teaching your children that making mistakes is ok and an integral part of learning, they will start to not fear it. You can model making mistakes in your life and how you deal with them. For example, not following a recipe correctly, forgetting to load the washing etc.
Open ended questions
Open ended questions are more like investigations with multiple answers, not just one. Children need to work their way through to find as many appropriate answers as possible. This idea that there is more than one correct answer, alleviates the stress of finding just one. Open ended questions also can lead to rich discussions about the process of finding as many answers as possible.
Relate maths to everyday activities
This is a common idea – to incorporate Maths into your daily life. Depending on the age of your child, the activities can range from reading clocks at certain times, to working out discounts using percentages to understanding how distance, speed and time is related through driving etc. Cooking together is a great activity too.
Please, whatever you do, do not compare your child to their siblings or any other children. If they hear you make the comparisons, they will start to think that is what you value – how good they are compared to someone else. This is a sure way to knock all the confidence out of them. Instead, focus on their individual successes.
Ask your child how they worked it out
This helps to show your child that not only do you have interest in what they are learning, but you also value the process of getting to the answer. Children should not concentrate on whether the answer is right or wrong, but start understanding that the process is just as important.
Speak positively about maths
As children tend to copy their parents’ opinions, if you have a negative attitude towards Maths, so will they. By speaking positively about it, being their cheerleader, you create a space for discussion, that yes, can be tricky and hard at times, but that doesn’t make it bad or make you unable to work through it. You are changing your child’s perception of their own abilities. Encourage and support their love for maths (or the potential love they could have!)
Maths deserves the same love as English and other disciplines, and you can be the parent that nurtures your children’s confidence in it.