As a STEM educator, I meet lot of children who are brilliant but a very few who are keen on solving Math problems. Most children face difficulty when we reach to the Mathematic component. Now, these children are really young and are yet to have set notions or fear. Yet, the majority of them struggle with simple practical applications of Mathematics.
When introduced in a right way, Math can really be fun. However, many parents struggle with instilling interest and love for the subject in their children. If introduced properly at an early age, Math has the ability to rewire children’s brain for growth mindset, better problem solving and build positive attitude towards the most feared subject.
We do not need to be a rocket scientist to approach Maths in the right way. Just a little change in the outlook and mindset would do the trick. Here are a few ideas:
1. Make Math part of Every Day Life: Math is all around us. The moment we wake up, we look at time. Time is nothing but a simple division of the day and night into different zones – AM and PM. Presenting numbers as part of our lives is a great approach towards building interest in Numeracy.
Use simple daily activities like cooking, shopping, watching sports, climbing stairs as an opportunity to introduce math. When children relate what they are learning to real-life situations, they question more and hence learn more.
2. Encourage Problem Solving: Present children with opportunities to problem solve and do their own math, per se, ask them to cut their sandwich into half or 4 squares or 2 triangles. Let them work it out themselves. You will be amazed how such a simple activity will keep them engaged and enlighten them in the process.
3. Approach Mistakes with Encouragement: Children who make mistakes are more likely to succeed than those who never make a mistake. Mistakes are a proof of trying so approach these errors with encouragement and not criticism. Remember, a simple calculation for adults can be challenging for little children.
4. Play Board Games: Board games are an interesting way to teach early Numeracy skills. Number recognition, counting is often a part of the board games and could easily be learned while playing.
5. Use the correct jargon: When we talk about big and small, tall and short we are essentially doing math. Children can learn a lot from the correct jargon. Make it into a ‘I Spy’ game and ask them to spot the tallest tree, biggest flower and smallest pebble. When parents use these words in their daily routine, children catch on to them and learn important mathematic principles.
6. Read Math Books: There are ample story books and rhymes available that can help children build their love for the subject. Three Little Pegs, Ants go Marching, Noah’s Ark are some everyday reading resources that incorporate math.
7. Blend it with Art: Math and art make a perfect harmony. Simple drawings can introduce your child to the world of shapes, proportions and symmetry. Simple geo-board activities, string art, weaving are a few great ways to integrate the two.