“How to solve math” – This seemingly simple question has plagued countless generations of parents and children who have gone through Singapore’s education system. Solving math questions can be difficult, but what makes it worse is if a child has no interest in the subject. To encourage a child to learn math, we must help him or her to develop interest. In this article, we will discuss different practical ways to make math fun for kids (and maybe even adults too!)
Method #1: Math as games
Young children are drawn to things that are colourful and interactive. Parents should make full use of such instincts to push math-related games to them. To your kids, math games are games, not math. There are plenty of free math games and apps available to let your kids enjoy the fun of math, and a good math game will layer in incentives and different levels of difficulty to attract the child.
If traditional assessment books are not working for your child, it is time to consider using math games. While games may seem less educational, they will be much more effective for your child’s learning because they arouse an interest in the subject – which is the first step towards independent and active learning.
Method #2: Build their confidence
Nobody likes to do things that they think they are not good at. This goes for kids as well. If your child has always done badly in math questions, especially problem sums, then it is natural for them to dislike math. As parents, you have to determine when your child started to perform badly. This is very crucial because it indicates that certain unmastered topics might be affecting his/her ability to understand deeper math topics.
Once you have found the point where your child is experiencing difficulty, let them attempt very easy questions for that topic. Every success builds their confidence and plants an important thought in their mind: I can now solve questions that I could not before.
If you have problems getting them to even attempt this, then you might want to consider using a reward system.
Method #3: Develop a progress system to motivate kids
Another method to help kids with math is to use a progress system. Kids need to constantly practice math to be able to score well. However, the incentive for them to practice is typically absent. Hence, the best way is to learn from games: implementing motivating items such as progress bars, levels, badges, and so on to show kids that they are improving. Many learning apps, such as King of Maths for the iPad, use this.
Progress systems push children to want to do more so that they can reach the next level, gain another badge, or rank higher on a scoreboard – all forms of recognition and encouragement.
Every parent can use this to motivate their child to practice math or even other activities like during kids piano lessons.
Method #4: Use real life scenarios to practice math
One of the best ways to improve math skills for kids is to let them practice math in real life without them realizing that they are learning math. Here are a few quick ideas you can use:
- When buying ice cream or other items for your child, use the moment to teach them about money and addition or subtraction
- When playing with building blocks like Lego, quiz them about area, perimeter, and volume
- When the child is wearing a watch, question him or her about time questions
- When eating a pizza or cake, test your child on the concept of fractions. For example, if there are 8 slices, ask him or her what is the fraction what you eat one.
The key here is to use everyday scenarios to ease your child into using math. The more he practices in daily life, the more he is going to enjoy it during learning.
Method #5: Present interesting facts about math
Children are naturally curious. Rather than presenting them with math questions directly, you can arouse their curiosity by first telling them stories about math – who invented the concept of the circle? Who is the smartest mathematician today? Such stories may help to make math interesting for your child, especially if he or she loves to read about interesting facts. There are also great books, like The Number Devil, that turn mathematical facts into captivating stories.
These methods should be useful to parents who are searching for answers on how to tutor math to kids in a fun and interesting way – and hopefully they make tutoring math more fun and less stressful for you as well! If you have other useful tips for making math fun for kids, do share them in the comments.