I’ve personally never been very good at math. In fact, most of my family – including extended family – does not like it as a subject. I struggled with math throughout elementary school, middle school, high school and even college. I was thrilled when I had all my requirements out of the way and no longer had to take any more courses in algebra and geometry.
Nevertheless, math is necessary in our lives. It’s woven into every facet of my life, from budgeting for my business to budgeting for groceries. I’ve made my peace with it and then married a man who gets it. 🙂
I figured our children would need a good role model when it came to learning the skills required in mathematics and knew I wasn’t going to be it.
But like all things in parenting, the reality is that you share the responsibility with your partner on everything, including math homework. So, since preschool I’ve been working with my daughter showing her how to add and subtract with Cheerios.
Make it meaningful early on
Kids are little sponges and love to soak up all the things you tell them (and the things you don’t tell them). So, while your kids are learning their ABC’s make sure they are not only learning their 123’s, but also learning how to use them. For instance, have them count items you put in the grocery cart or the price of toys. Have them count trees as you walk down the street or let them measure out ingredients for dinner. Make math meaningful by showing how it applies to everyday life. Kids don’t have to specifically know it’s “math,” but the goal is to give them a foundation for learning ahead.
Don’t push your issues with math on to them
Just because I hate math doesn’t mean my children have to. I try to keep my mouth shut whenever my daughter says something about not liking it. Instead of reinforcing her fears about the concepts being hard, I try to strengthen the idea that it can be fun and useful too. You don’t want your (or MY, in this case) negative attitude about a subject to rub off on your child.
In order to try and make math fun, I believe it is imperative to play games that involve the skills. There are games that you can purchase – like Monopoly and the Game of Life – that will just seem like normal games but will also enhance math skills. There are games you can purchase that specifically focus on aspects, like multiplication and division, such as the animal game Pet Me, Math War and Multiplication Mosaics. Or, you can simply make your own. The goal is to show children how math can be fun and challenging in a way that makes them want play.
Click here to grab more information on this money matching game!
Get them extra help if they need it
Admitting your children might need extra help in a subject can be difficult but getting him/her that extra help can be imperative to their lifelong learning – especially when it comes to mathematics. From personalized tutoring for K-12 to advanced math and algebra and geometry, Sylvan Learning can help your children learn all the skills they need to succeed in math.
Beginning with simple skills, like multiplication and division, through advanced placement and even test prep, the tutors at Sylvan Learning will help your child break down mathematics skills to give your child the confidence he/she needs to do well in school and on tests.
The Sylvan Learning curriculum aligns with most school standards and teaching techniques, and the math tutors excel at motivating children by providing a mix of guided support, interactive lessons and motivational feedback and rewards.
Teach them that practice makes perfect
When kids struggle in sports, parents often tell them that they need more practice. The same is true for all of our skills, including math. Having your child practice concepts that are difficult for him/her will help enforce the idea that even if something is challenging, it is worth it.
Find a math role model
All kids have role models in life and helping them to have a role model in education is just as important as an athletic role model when it comes to inspiration. For math, there are more choices out there than you might have originally thought, and they’re not all men. Here are a few historical examples with links to more present-day:
Sophie Germain (1776 – 1831) – a mathematician and an early trailblazer, studied under the false name of Joseph Lagrange at École Polytechnique, a prestigious institution for higher learning and research near Paris. She also became the first woman to win a prize from the French Academy of Sciences for her work on the theory of elasticity.
Katherine Johnson (1918) – Johnson is an African-American mathematician and scientist who was in charge of ensuring that the first American astronaut to orbit Earth was able to do so without an issue. During a 35-year career at NASA, she earned a reputation for mastering complex manual calculations and helped the space agency pioneer the use of computers.
Isaac Newton (1642 -1726) – one of the most famous early mathematicians was Isaac Newton. He is widely recognized as one of the most influential scientists of all time. He formulated the laws of motion and universal gravitation, which formed the dominant scientific viewpoint until the theory of relativity. He used mathematics to prove Kepler’s Laws of Planetary Motion and built the first reflecting telescope.
You can find a full list of mathematicians, broken down by ancestry and more here.
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