Many people have developed a nasty habit of labeling math as difficult, boring, or even scary and even though they want to know how to create a math enthusiast, they don’t have any idea where to begin.
It has almost become trendy for students to announce their distaste for their least favorite subject, math.
That sentiment needs to go extinct as soon as possible and a new school of thought ushered in.
Math is a pillar of education and the key to many careers, especially in the STEM field.
Beyond numbers, math pushes students to think critically and become problem solvers. But how do we undo the stigma unfairly forced on the subject of math and build math confidence? Let’s find out!
Change How You Talk About Math to Kids
Get excited! When you hear the word math come up, put on a wide smile on your face, perk up and show some genuine interest.
Our kids and students feed off our energy and nothing sets the tone like enthusiasm. Let’s be clear, we aren’t trying to make math cool or hip, we are just trying to make math a positive part of a child’s education.
“When you speak with your child, try to dispel the anxiety that often surrounds math,” says James Smith, a math expert writing for Spark Education.
This goes double for students struggling with math.
Falling behind in math can send any student into a virtual tailspin and be a major source of grief for young learners.
We need to emphasize that math is not a scary enigma and sometimes falling behind happens to the best of us.
Keep your child as calm as possible and help them enjoy speaking about math.
Integrate Math into the Daily Routine
How many apples are there?
What if I give you 2 more?
How many are there now?
A simple everyday scenario can turn into an math problem. You can do this at home, during grocery shopping or even at a restaurant.
Getting kids a quick math practice session when they aren’t expecting it makes them think on their feet and apply things they’ve learned in a practical scenario.
They get a moment to shine and you get an opportunity to praise them for showing what they learned.
An excited word and a high five can do wonders for a child’s confidence plus have them associate that feeling with math.
Set aside time for math sessions daily to support your kids with math work.
All of us remember near daily math homework.
When kids have a chance to work with parents who are excited about math before going to school, they become inspired about math. That’s how a math enthusiast is created.
Setting up a math routine builds a child’s confidence and during math time a parent can easily see any areas where their child either struggles or excels.
Make Math Fun
This might be the most critical tip thus far. It is imperative you find ways to make math fun for your students.
Let’s not try to force homework to be fun, rather find a teaching aid that puts math in a new light.
Math games have been all the rage especially since the computer prominently joined the classroom.
For those of us on the forefront of the tech-boom during primary school, we had fun games like Math Blaster, Math Rodeo, and other simple, yet highly impactful, math games.
With advancement in technology and methodology, math games have become designed to teach entire lessons and concepts rather than simple problems like the games of days past.
Math games are great, but it would be nice to have some guidance to go along with it. Recently, I’ve had my son experimenting with a new company called Spark Math.
My son is not a champion of self-led learning, but when he has a live teacher on video chat working with him and a few other students, it makes a world of difference.
Now my son can learn complex math concepts that he can directly apply in his elementary school. The best part? He loves all the math games they play on Spark Math so he barely even realizes he’s learning math!
Link Math to Their Interests
Is your child a gamer? Math helped make them. Does your child play sports? Math and statistics help them keep track of their performance and improve.
Maybe they want to become an architect. Math keeps the buildings from collapsing. Math touches every aspect of our lives and kid should have a firm understanding of this. “When am I ever going to use math in the REAL WORLD?!”
Demanded a typical kid trying to get out of math class. We must let the new generation know that math is here to stay and what better way to do that than by tying it to an interest?
Parents will likely know what hobbies, interests, and aspirations their child has. However, in the constantly shifting world of a kid, it wouldn’t hurt to ask.
Once you’re familiar with their current top interest, you can subtly associate it with math.
This may take some homework on your part but it will pay dividends in no time! Figure out a way to take the current math they are working on in school and then apply it to something they like.
Ask questions about their interests that make them think mathematically. “Wow LeBron shot 5/10 from behind the arc tonight! What percentage did he shoot?” Simple questions can work wonders.
If it hasn’t become clear, it is imperative parents play and active role in their child’s education if you want to know how to create a math enthsiast.
Conquering fears and anxiety surrounding math starts at home.
By changing the way children view math and making math a normal part of their day, they will become more comfortable with the subject. Make math a fun treat when possible. Give your students a reason to care about learning math other than “because you have to.”
Nurturing the inner math lover in a child is not an easy task, but the reward will be worth it.
James Williams is a father, a former educator, and educational writer with a passion for helping others improve their goals. His son is using Spark Math and has definitely become a math enthusiast! He has taught students in the US and China and also coaches sports. It is his belief that every student has a unique way of learning and interacting with the world and it is our job as parents and teachers to figure out how to best bring out everyone’s potential. James is also a former math hater turned math lover after seeing the light!