Start Growing Math Confidence Today!
Parents and educators have the best intentions for kids they're in charge of - however, these same people often unwittingly sabotage the same people they're trying to help!
Kids don't hate math - they hate being unable to do math. Let me explain with a relatable story.
In my college years, I fell in love with the sound of the classical guitar. I excitedly bought myself a guitar during the holidays, imagining that I'd be producing heavenly sounds with weeks. I had no music teacher, my tutorial books were hard to understand, and youtube still wasn't a thing. I decided that listening to the classical guitar was more my thing, and the guitar I bought turned into a reminder of my failure.
The same thing happens to kids every day. Here's how well-meaning parents and teachers accidentally sabotage their kids - and 5 tips on how to help them instead!
From learning 1+1 to calculus and beyond, math is a bunch of concepts that build on themselves. When a child misses a couple of math classes, future concepts become much harder to get.
Exacerbating the problem is the fact that our schools are built for mass education, not personalized education. If a child doesn't understand a concept, they receive a lower grade and some remedial help if they're lucky. But the whole class moves on to the next topic. Age and the grade a child is in doesn't determine their math abilities - their brain development dictates what they will and won't be able to do. This makes the system functional for average students. Students that need extra help or enrichment aren't really catered to.
5 tried and true tips to improve your child's relationship with math:
- Point out their successes: When I work with kids, I always point out successes and remind them that it was due to their hard work. Progress is always gradual, so it's very hard to notice - a plant doesn't seem to grow from day to day, but over a season, growth is very obvious. This can take the form of pointing out a difference in grades, or reminding them of mistakes they used to make. It's pretty rewarding to see a smile develop on their faces as they realize that something that used to be difficult and discouraging is now mastered
- Don't undermine your child's progress with statements like “I was never good at math”. Several years ago, I had a student that had a particularly hard time grasping math concepts. I worked so hard to help her and point out her successes. This obviously came up during parent-teacher interviews, and the parent, wanting to reassure her child, mentioned several times that she also was bad at math growing up. I could practically see my student's confidence fading. She must have been thinking "if my mom couldn't do math, how the heck am I supposed to??". We can't make kids love math, but we can encourage them and show them its value in everyday life and in their future.
- Make math meaningful. Teachers and parents tell kids that math is important to life - and this is only true in part. After all, when's the last time you used the pythagorean theorem or calculus? The truth is that it's the act of problem solving in math that is useful to everyday life. Give your child real examples of math being used for problem solving from your life!
- Uncover your child’s math weaknesses and build up the related skills. Your child’s teacher will gladly tell you what skills your child needs to master in order to get better at the concepts they’re working on in class. Strengthening those skills is easy - exercises and instructions can be found online at khanacademy.com, math exercise books, or straight from your child’s teacher.
- Provide your child with some easier math on Khan Academy to show them that they CAN do math. Success is encouraging! (Sign up for updates below to learn our Khan Academy secrets and more)
Math and STEM (science, tech, engineering, math) are more important than ever, and we can't afford to have our children develop phobias related to them. I've seen kids go from moaning and groaning over math time, to feeling elated that they're able to solve problems on their own.
Know someone whose kids are having math problems? Share these 5 easy tips with them today!
Wassim (B.Sc, Master of Teaching, OCT)