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How to Help Your Children Get the Most Out of Their Maths Education

From Imogen, published on 29/06/2017 We Love Prof - UK > Academia > Maths > Learning Maths at Home: 6 Ways to Help Your Kids

A good knowledge of maths and the ability to apply it is an essential part of our everyday lives.

Does your child find maths difficult? Maybe you want to lend them a hand but have no idea where to start.

Understandably, some children have difficulty remembering how to calculate square roots, the order of operations or simply to memorise their times tables.

But what exactly are the applications of mathematics in our lives? Is teaching math to everyone really necessary?

Why not help your children to look at maths differently, starting by discussing the subject at home?

Sometimes, all you need is a good learning environment and a different approach to unlock a child’s potential.

Let’s have a look at all the ways in which parents can act as an educator and help their children with their maths at home.

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Discuss Maths at Home

The problem with only learning maths at school is that children sometimes become too distant from the subject when they are elsewhere.

This means that if the child encounters a problem in school math, they are less likely to mention it to their parents as the discussion would take place out of the school context.

Rightly or wrongly, if parents do not play an active role in giving their child homework help, for example, it does not occur to the learner that their parents may be able to help them since they do not attend their maths classes.

On the other hand, being at home could be a way of avoiding maths, especially if solving math problems and answering maths quizzes makes them anxious.

Whether they are learning about algebra, geometry or plotting coordinates, math can prove to be a fun and stimulating discipline for children who have a natural curiosity about the world around them.

By placing maths in a familiar context, you will familiarise yourself with the math concepts and increase your children’s confidence asking you questions.  All children are capable of learning math, so prepare to be surprised!

The best way to combat a fear is to acknowledge it, approach it and discuss it with those around you.

The same goes for mathematics. Whether it’s fractions, decimals, arithmetic, the calculation of sums or graphing, just because you struggled with a topic as a child, it does not necessarily mean that your child will have the same difficulties.

Allow children to discuss maths to give them more confidence Make your child feel at ease to discuss their maths homework with you ¦ source: Pixabay – ambermb

However, you can use your child’s education as an opportunity to get over your own fears.

Talking about mathematics in contexts such as cooking, crafts, travelling, and playing with your children is the best way to make this discipline an active part of your children’s day-to-day lives.

For them, using maths will become just as normal as everything else.

Environment is key: as long as you provide a reason for children to discuss maths, they will do so. This is why it’s up to parents and carers to lay the foundations for future academic success.

The more you talk about math in a positive way around your children, the more likely they are to start taking a personal interest in it.

Do not hesitate to ask them questions about maths, for example, ask them how to solve mathematical calculations while baking or on a walk.

Exercises like this will help develop their recall skills and put them at ease with maths, making for a smooth transition into technical learning in the future.

Learn Through Play

Whatever field of study your children choose to pursue, they will always learn better when they’re having fun than when they’re learning off by heart.

So take advantage of this! Whether in the form of free online math lessons, interactive math games online or by playing with Lego, maths can nearly always be turned into a game for nearly any topic!

Kids learn best when they're having fun Simple mathematical concepts can be taught with fun games! ¦ source: Visualhunt – Ashley MacKinnon

Playing cool maths games with your children will also provide you with a good opportunity to learn basic math. Learn about counting, sorting, telling time, number sense, comparing, reasoning, probability, estimation, and rounding in primary maths.

For example, you could ask your children to measure the amount of pasta in a bowl or count the pieces while you cook.

Lego may also be used to visualise operations such as addition and subtraction or multiplication and division.

For the younger children attending preschool, why not get them to colour in digits to teach them about writing numbers?

Use Your Child’s Interests

Being exposed to a subject as vast as mathematics can be somewhat intimidating for children.

Having to remember all the notation, vocabulary, equations, graphs, and theorems by heart can put an adult’s head in a spin – never mind a child’s!

However, learning maths can be fun for children if they are able to practice their math skills in a familiar environment and at their own pace.

Kids do most of their learning without even realising!

Educational games include playing cars, playing with a tea set, building towers with Lego or similar toy bricks, or playing cool math games on a tablet.

You will be pleasantly surprised to see how quickly kids learn when they’re enjoying themselves.

There are also many free maths websites with lots of math resources, puzzles and fun maths games for kids such as TopMarks Maths and Math Playground. You could even download a free math app onto your tablet.

Some budding mathematicians may even learn math at home without knowing that it is related to their studies at school.

Making learning interactive is key to sparking a child's interest Education apps on a tablet can be useful for learning ¦ source: Visualhunt – Gwenaël Piaser

Learning to identify your children’s interests and include them in their education is an excellent way to keep them engaged.

See Maths in the Everyday

For many children, there is no real link between the content of their maths lessons and everyday life.

However, there is an opportunity to demonstrate this link in your home, in your garden, or while doing the weekly shop.

For instance, ask your children about counting the change in your purse or to calculate the total sum of your purchases as you make your way around the shop.

If you enjoy cooking, why not give your child the role of sous-chef for the day and get them to help with the recipe? Measure the amounts of flour, sugar, count the eggs, convert the measurements from imperial to metric and estimate the cooking time, converting minutes into hours and using the clock to work out when your cake will be baked.

All these small things will quickly become embedded in your child’s memory. On the one hand, they will be happy to help you and on the other hand, it will keep them engaged.

All of a sudden you’ll see how removing the pressure of timed maths tests makes learning easy, as children learn to appreciate the applications of maths in a given situation.

This method of learning is far more fun than spending hours on math worksheets, homework or maths quiz questions.

See More than One Solution to a Maths Problem

Children need to learn that math is more than calculators and equals signs.

There are always several ways to solve any maths problem nd many maths tricks that will make your life easier. For example, for simple operations and estimation, why use a calculator when mental calculation can save you time?

By showing them that there are several paths to the same answer, you will help kids develop critical thinking and logic skills as they learn to consider each approach.

Create a Suitable Learning Environment

Children develop their early maths skills by getting to know the world around them.

It is the responsibility of the parents to develop and nurture this natural curiosity by sharing their personal experiences with maths and helping children to appreciate that maths all around them. For instance, point out the mathematical elements of how their house has been built and look closely at the bookshelf that their Dad made.

You could even try modelling this with Lego bricks.

Maths is everywhere if you look closely enough.

However, it is impossible to do well in maths if you’re working in the wrong kind of environment. Whether it’s sitting down to do maths homework or to have a private maths lesson, trying to concentrate in a busy or disorganised area can be too difficult for some.

Give your child a learning corner decorated with a number line and with kids learning games and educational toys such as building cubes or modelling clay, so they are free to feed their appetite for knowledge in a calm and familiar environment.

By having a space specially designed for this, your child will be able to develop independence in their learning while exploring mathematical concepts like place value, adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing, and sequences.

Demonstrate that maths is everywhere with decorations and furniture Create an ideal learning environment in your home ¦ source: Visualhunt – Cathy Cassidy

As we can see, the taste for maths is not innate, however, it is something that can be worked on from an early age.

It is entirely possible to give children a taste for maths by integrating basic notions into their favourite activities and involving them in the mathematical parts of your daily tasks to show the importance of maths in day-to-day life.

Having a good understanding of numbers outside of the classroom will make for better grades in the future as children feel more at ease with furthering their knowledge of the subject.

As a parent, it’s up to you to work with your child to develop an interest in mathematics through playful yet educational math activities.

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