By Gillian Burdett
No one is born a mathematician, yet some people seem to have natural abilities in math that others lack. The difference may be in how they related to math as they were growing up. Kids actively seek to make sense of their environment and are excited with the eureka moments of grasping new concepts. Mathematical relationships are part of that. Ask a kindergarten graduate if she can count to 100, and you will most likely get a proud demonstration.
The fun and sense of exploration that comes with tackling math problems may begin to erode with the formal study of math in school. Children who are unable to see the connection between their pre-school discoveries and classroom worksheets may see math as a dull chore. While mastering new concepts is hard work, there are some ways parents can help nurture a love of math in their children.
Create a Math-Rich Environment
Your home is filled with opportunities to show your child how math applies to daily life. A toddler’s blocks may be counted; measuring cups scoop out a fraction of a cup of flour needed for a recipe. How tall is that old oak tree in the backyard? Trigonometry can help with that.
Math games, puzzles, and computer applications are fun ways to introduce and reinforce new concepts. Introduce your child to money and budgeting with an allowance or an enterprise. Making that lemonade stand profitable will require math skills.
Revisit Learned Concepts
Math is sequential. Ideally, students will master a set of skills before moving on to the next set. Unfortunately, this often doesn’t happen as teachers have a finite number of weeks in the school year to cover specific skills. A student that doesn’t fully grasp multiplication will have difficulty with division. Continually revisiting concepts your child has already learned reinforces and builds on skills. The goal is to make concepts second nature, coming to the mind as easily as the solution to two-plus-two.
Display a Positive Attitude Towards Math
Do you believe you are “not a math person”? From where did that belief come? Children absorb the beliefs and attitudes of the people around them. If you speak of math in negative terms, it will stick in your child’s mind and influence his own beliefs. Instead, approach math as something fascinating. It may require work to solve a complex problem, but surely, you are up to the challenge. Using math to solve questions that arise in daily life can be fun. Model a positive attitude towards math challenges, and your children will be less apprehensive about the math problems assigned by their teacher.