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Learning Maths: Realising the Academic Potential of Every Child

From Imogen, published on 28/06/2017 We Love Prof - UK > Academia > Maths > Every Child is Capable of Learning Maths

When you’re young, starting your journey into the world of mathematics can seem like climbing Mount Everest.

When some kids learn maths, every part of it is difficult.

However, if the child has enough guidance from a good tutor from an early age, there is no reason that they should not succeed in maths.

So if you’re asking yourself whether your child is capable of learning their times tables, addition and subtraction and even reasoning, the answer is of course!

This is because although maths is a vast subject, its many levels are taught according to the age and therefore intellectual maturity of the pupils.

This approach gives children the fundamental skills they need for the rest of their lives, such as:

  • Confidence in their abilities
  • Opening doors to careers in mathematics and science
  • Problem-solving and understanding why decisions have been made
  • Developing IT skills
  • Learning to manage time and money in day-to-day life

With the help of an enthusiastic teacher, maths worksheets and exercises, and examples of the real-world applications of maths, students can discover a whole world of algebra, geometry, probability and statistics and graphing.

Even if you have struggled with maths in the past, keep in mind that your children are different and, because of their age, have their brains in the perfect state for learning how to tackle math problems.

This article has all you need to know about helping children to learn maths.

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Why Starting Young is Beneficial in the Long Run

According to a study by Michele Mazzocco from the University of Minnesota, children under six years of age find it easiest to develop the aptitude to learn basic math skills in their preschool or kindergarten years.

For example, kids can be taught basic geometry or symmetry by building towers with toy bricks such as Lego, which they can also use to understand division and sharing.

Interactive math games and activities can be easily invented at home, or you can find free math games online where the learner is free to play math games for kids and take timed maths tests or quizzes to try our their skills.

There are also many websites such as BBC Bitesize Maths which provide free math lessons in the form of math videos which explain concepts such as number sense, counting, estimation, comparing, rounding, mathematical vocabulary, scientific notation, multiplication and division, telling time, place value, order of operations, adding and subtracting and arithmetic.

The internet has plenty free printable math worksheets and free online maths games for practicing skills learnt in class including fun math logic games for kids, puzzles, jigsaws, sudoku, word problems, multiplication games and addition games – there is a game for pretty much everything!

Children's brains are like sponges - open to learning, so why not teach them maths from a young age? Give them a head start in maths ¦ source: Pixabay – vuralyavas

It has also been shown that children under 6 months old are already capable of distinguishing between two different images; one with 10 bright spots, and the other with 20 – this proves that even infants have the ability to compare quantities.

In actual fact, children are most responsive to learning around the age of 5 years, and with the help of a math teacher to give them a firm foundation in the fundamental principles of maths at this young age, they will find it easier to develop an understanding of advanced mathematical concepts as an adult.

So why don’t all children find primary school maths as easy as each other? And how should you help kids to overcome their mental blocks in this area of their education?

If all children have the same appetite for knowledge and ability to learn, maybe the explanation is to do with their upbringing. For example, if a pupil’s parents don’t provide the maths help their child needs alongside their education, the child can lose the confidence and motivation they need to succeed.

The Importance of the Teacher’s Knowledge

To teach maths, an educator should not only be appropriately qualified, but they should also be enthusiastic about their subject.

The more enthusiastic the teacher, the deeper their knowledge of maths in the real world will be – which can be beneficial for the academic career of their pupils, who become more interested in the subject as their teacher shares their passion.

Having a shared enthusiasm for maths means students are more likely to take a personal interest in the subject, increasing their chances of maths mastery.

We always hear about children being ‘emotional sponges‘, so it’s up to the teacher to use this and put all of their teaching methods, knowledge, and motivation into action to ensure that their pupils feel free to ask questions and get involved with their education.

Share your passion and inspire students to take their studies further Learning through play gets children excited about maths ¦ source: Pixabay – LRCL

It has also been shown that teaching individual math concepts in detail is most effective, because each child is able to understand and interpret each idea and theory instead of simply learning sums and every times table by heart.

This shows that children are also capable of understanding algorithms if they learn by different methods.

But if the teachers themselves impose barriers to teach them this discipline, it makes it more difficult to improve the children’s self-esteem and allow them to demonstrate their full potential in this field.

The Importance of a Positive Mindset

With children as well as with adults, the question of the state of mind is paramount and will contribute to their future academic success.

Children who maintain a positive mindset are the most open to math learning and believe that they will always be able to improve their level of knowledge.

They are more likely to do well in comparison to those who have a basic, closed mindset, who feel limited by their abilities, while they see others progress and succeed.

Mentalities can change and develop over time as children gain more life experience.

If you try to overcome a problem, you will find it hard to find a solution with parents or teachers who do not expect you to succeed, which makes it even harder to do well.

When this issue is applied to maths, students start to believe that the subject simply isn’t for them.

Maths should not be memorised. As a practical subject, the best way to learn math is to put it into practice.

Learning to Change Your Mindset

During a maths workshop in 2003, researchers discovered that a group of year 12 students had a better ability to learn and develop new skills.

Students were told that their brain was a muscle and therefore, every time they learned a new technique, they ‘enlarged’ their brain, making it easier to learn new things the future.

As a result of their participation in the workshop, the students firmly believed that they could acquire new skills and have better grades with small efforts and regular maths practice.

This actually shows how an open mindset can be taught by parents and teachers, and that a certain approach to teaching mathematics can change the opinions of students who previously thought that their abilities were just like anyone else’s.

A program that developed skills that are useful for learning, such as a student’s belief in their own ability to learn maths would be a very powerful tool.

giving children the motivation to do well involves helping them be confident in their own abilities Self-belief plays a vital role in academic success ¦ source: Pixabay – sasint

This combination of developing a positive mindset as well as learning math is found in the JUMP Math programme, which is aimed at maths teachers as well as teachers of other disciplines.

The goal of the programme is to help them become confident in their own mathematical skills, giving them the tools to support and their students in their learning.

With JUMP Math, the learning programme is set out in small steps and offers children feedback on how to improve, avoiding damage to their self-esteem when they make a mistake.

Is Every Child Capable of Learning Maths?

The answer is more complicated than a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

With the right environment, a good source of encouragement and suitable learning strategies, children have the ability to build on their natural curiosity and develop useful skills as well as a love of maths, giving them a better chance of success in the future.

How can a Private Tutor Help?

One way to get the right environment, as well as encouragement and advice, is to find a one on one in-person or online maths tutor.

Unlike the traditional maths for schools or lectures in college, one-to-one tuition is tailored to your personal learning styles with your goals in mind, to provide a personalised and therefore effective service.

The one-to-one nature of private tuition means that you have the full, undivided attention of your math tutor, unlike at school where the maths teacher has to divide their attention between up to 30 pupils, making it nearly impossible to cater for the levels of all the children.

At first, you will work together with your tutor to determine your strengths and weaknesses in mathematics.

You could choose work on specific topics such as fractions, decimals probabilities, geometry, algebraic equations or data management, depending on your goals.

Receive tailored math help from a personalised learning programme from your tutor Realise your potential with private tutoring ¦ source: Visualhunt – Official U.S. Navy Imagery

Next, your tutor will draw up a personalised learning programme with lessons and maths problems which are fully adapted to your level of study.

On a psychological level, a one on one tutor can teach more than just maths. For example, they will be able to stay positive, even when explaining tricky topics, and explain mathematical concepts from a point of view to suit their student. You’ll feel like you’re doing easy maths.

Having a private tutor is like having a personal trainer who can give you advice, motivation and guidance with exercises to ensure that you make good progress.

The communication in your relationship with your math tutor will show you the subject in a new light,  as they help you overcome any difficulties.

As a student, when you encounter a problem, do not hesitate to ask about maths questions, share your thoughts and bring maths to life.

By expressing your ideas, you will develop mathematical reasoning skills and think like a true mathematician. Maybe you’ll be the next Einstein – you never know!

Learning maths doesn’t have to be difficult.

Of course, it requires work, personal investment and time but people of all ages and backgrounds are capable of learning the subject.

It’s a matter of mentality and mindset; if you are encouraged to work and to succeed, and if you are shown that you have the ability to learn, then you will do so without even realising.

Has your child been diagnosed with dyslexia or dyscalculia and you want to know more about helping them learn maths? Read our article with tips and advice.

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