How many times have you heard the statement, “I don’t really like math”? There really isn’t a certain age group that expresses these feelings; these sentiments are felt from grade school into adulthood. What the child or adult is really saying is, “I don’t really understand math” or “New math concepts are really hard for me to grasp.” You can help change your child’s perspective by implementing these strategies.
Listen to your child
Many adults speak negatively about topics they don’t understand. It’s easier on the ego to simply say you don’t like something rather than admit you’re unfamiliar with or don’t understand a topic. The same is true for children. Listen very carefully to have a better idea of your child’s feelings toward learning new skills.
Identify prerequisite skills
Children often express a dislike because they did not completely master the prerequisite skills necessary to understand the current one. Work with the teacher to determine the prerequisite skills and develop a plan for remediation.
Incorporate games or other computer activities
Children often become bored with the same style of instruction. However, throwing paper and pencil out the window is not the answer. Develop a balanced variety of learning methods to break up the monotony.
Encourage your child to “play school.” Allow your child to play the role of the teacher. Begin by choosing a skill he/she has mastered. Have them teach you the skill in their own words. Make this a regular occurrence in the home. Being able to reteach a skill to others demonstrates mastery and empowers the student as well.
Incorporate math into daily life
There are many opportunities to use math outside of the normal school day. Take some extra time to include your child in the grocery list planning process. For younger students, encourage counting opportunities while riding in the car. Identify shapes and colors in the environment. Use opportunities to regularly make connections to everyday life.
Connect math to other areas of interest
Use your child’s specific interests to make a connection. If your child is interested in music, have them write a song related to a specific skill. If cooking peaks their interests, encourage them to analyze recipes by increasing or decreasing the amount of ingredients based on the size of your family.
Connect math to literacy
Select books that are related to current math skills. Read with your child or have them read to you after completing homework. Seeing the skill delivered in an alternative method can help reinforce its importance and connection outside of the normal math instructional time.