Math is one of the most disliked school subjects for many people. However, the fact that math is fundamental to the syllabi of schools all around the world is a testament to its importance. For one, math is prevalent in daily life. We use math every day to keep track of our finances, make comparisons, measure things, and so on.
Yet some may argue that only simple arithmetic is essential for life, and a deeper knowledge of math – think trigonometry, calculus, imaginary numbers, and more – is not necessary. While it is true that many people get by without a solid grasp of complex math topics, it is also true that math has relevance beyond mere arithmetic application.
The fact is, math is integral to many other fields of study, including the sciences, engineering, digital technology, and more. That is why school syllabi often make math a compulsory subject. In Singapore, IB subjects include math as a mandatory course, although students can choose the level of depth they wish to pursue.
Some international schools in Singapore, like the Canadian International School, also promote mathematical learning through the STEAM programme. Through hands-on and interdisciplinary approaches, students can gain a more thorough appreciation for mathematics and other STEAM subjects in an engaging manner.
While schools of today are doing their part to boost children’s interest and aptitude in math, how can parents contribute to their child’s learning of mathematics? The truth is, learning begins at home before children even reach the school-going age. And even after the kids have gone to school, parents can play a part in promoting interest in the subject.
To cultivate passionate mathematics learners, parents can employ these tips and tricks right at home:
- Set an example:Young children pick up on adults’ responses to learn how to react to things. Thus, if you show an obvious disdain towards mathematics, chances are, your child will also start to react adversely towards the subject. In order not to influence your child to shun mathematics, you should emanate positivity when speaking about mathematics. Speak about mathematics as an interesting, relevant, and exciting subject.
- Familiarise yourself with the syllabus: You can keep track of your child’s progress in mathematics by finding out about their school syllabus. This way, you can pre-empt them regarding new topics, and brush up on certain ones when required. For example, if you know your child will be learning fractions in the following semester, it will be good to introduce them to the concept in the school break prior.
- Use daily activities to teach math: Due to math’s ubiquity in daily life, it is not difficult to incorporate math learning in everyday tasks. For example, you can involve them in measuring out ingredients when baking, counting money for a purchase, keeping track of time, and so on. This helps children see the relevance of math, and helps them visualise the concepts better rather than wrestling with abstract numbers on a page.
- Engage them with board games and puzzles: Mathematics skills only improve with practice, and sometimes, the best way is still through repetition and reinforcement. Games and puzzles are a great way to engage children in practising math, because it raises the stakes by giving them a deeper sense of satisfaction. There are plenty of math-focused games in the market, but some old-school ones that involve math are Monopoly, Rummikub, and Sudoku.
- Expose them to math-related stories: Seeing the wonders of math can fascinate children and motivate them in learning math. Sharing stories that involve math, or introducing them to the history behind math concepts can help children appreciate math better. If possible, speaking to people who use math in their work can ignite children’s interest in how math is used.
With these suggestions, you can help your child see math as a useful, intriguing subject, and boost their math performance in school. Start with these tips this upcoming school break, so you can stop worrying about math becoming your child’s nemesis!