Not all Singaporean kids are brilliant at mathematics, no matter how good they are in other subjects.
Why is Math so hard to learn?
For most students, math is not something that comes automatically or intuitively like languages. It is all about logic, which requires understanding of theories and applying them. This subject requires students to invest a lot of time and energy. In other words, math is just like constructing a building; one has to start from the foundation and set it strong, before moving on to develop that building. If this work is not strategically and systematically carried out, it poses a problem. Same goes for the learning of math. If a student misses one key ingredient from previous classes, it would be very difficult for him to comprehend what is happening in the following lessons.
But math is not difficult like what most people assume it to be. Instead, it is one of the most interesting subject to learn. One can learn it easily, given that they are taught and guided the right way.
Therefore, you shouldn’t worry about your kids’ poor grades. Don’t be harsh on them or pressurise them.
Instead, make the learning of mathematics interesting and engaging by incorporating daily life examples which develops their spontaneous thinking and problem-solving skills.
In short, you need to teach your kids essential skills to ace mathematics.
Application of Math in Real Life:
Kids learn easily when they relate their knowledge (mathematical theories) to what they see around them in their daily life. Be it at home, in school or out there on the streets, there are a myriad of things for kids to apply their mathematics skills.
- Take them to a supermarket and tell them to calculate the costs of the commodities. Ask them to calculate the percentage discounts on reduced items.
- How many square feet of paint do you need for that wall in your house?
- While preparing a recipe, ask kids to measure or weigh ingredients.
- While driving the car, ask them how much fuel is left in the car. How much it takes to reach the home?
- Involve them while coming up with logistics.
Maybe even ask questions like,
- How many trousers are being put in a washing machine?
- If you ate ¼ of dinner, how much would you have left?
Use Math Mobile Apps:
Math mobile apps make the learning interesting and fun with animation, games, and storytelling. For example, they present a solution to solve complex math equations through puzzles or games. Learning math through apps is even interesting as today’s kids are more adept at using smartphone, tablets and other technological devices. If that’s what interests them, guide them in that direction.
Practice Does Matter:
Learning math requires students to focus on each concept individually. Some concepts may require more practice and some need far less, but as a parent, you should make sure that they practice questions under the concepts they don’t understand over and over again, until they get a grip of it. Practice makes perfect and get them to realise that through mathematics!
Provide them with Math Books:
There are many math books that interestingly contextualise equation-solving which enables students to remember important pieces of information. Here we have listed a few of them that are loved by students and mathematicians all over the world.
- Each Orange Had 8 Slices:
This is a wonderful book to assist kids with the skills of problem solving and multiplication, which contains interactive stories and engaging graphics.
- The Doorbell Rang:
This book helps a kid learn the skills of sharing, division, and cultivates problem-solving skills in mathematics.
- One Odd Day:
This book is really helpful if your kids struggle with odd numbers. The central character in the story finds that everything around him is now odd—1 sock, a shirt with 3 sleeves and a dog with 5 legs. The graphics in the book are wonderful, and your kids have lots of fun finding all the odd items in the pictures.
Bring in Math Games:
Games are effective for practicing various mathematical problems and this helps students to internalise concepts and commit them to their memory much easily. These games can be board games, card games or online games.
- Monopoly is great for learning math concepts by adding and subtracting the numbers.
- Toys like interlocking blocks and those with pipes and joints are an effective way to teach your kids about tactile geometry.
- Given that songs have catchy tunes and rhyming words, turning mathematical facts into a song will help a kid memorise important concepts easily.
- Flashcards also help kids learn math facts.
Help Them Identify the Buzzwords:
Many students often struggle to create equations to solve problems based on their understanding of the pre-amble in questions. For example, they confuse themselves with the terms “increased by” and “times”. So you need to help them understand those phrases.
Some of the common buzzwords in most contexts are…
- “Increased by”; “a total of”; sum; and “more than”, are used for ADDITION
- “Less than”; “fewer than”, “difference of” are used for SUBTRACTION
- “Times”; “the Product of” are used for MULTIPLICATION
- “Per” ; “ratio of”; “quotient of” are used for DIVISION
And Make Sure to Observe Their Progress…
Above given strategies will help your kids learn math facts with ease. However, you as a parent should show your support in their learning. But that doesn’t mean you solve a mathematical problem for them when they get stuck while solving it themselves. By stepping in too early to help, it can hinder their thought process and they might become dependant. Besides, it also makes them feel that they are not able to do anything without your help, thereby affecting their confidence. Instead of providing support right away, step back and observe their train of thoughts and their progress. Be patient while you motivate the kids to try new methods and look at the issues from new perspectives.
Once again, math is one of the most interesting school subject, though it is not intuitive like languages or the arts. Learning math should not be stressful or challenging for the kids. You as a parent should make the learning engaging and fun for them. Understanding what’s behind your kid’s struggle with learning mathematics and this is a great way to garner the necessary support for your child. The better you know, the more you will be able to help your child deal with his or her challenges much easily.