Why has math become one of the most hated school subjects? Or has it always been? Why do so many students feel estranged from algebra, arithmetic, geometry and trigonometry? A lot of them say that it is an abstract subject that they almost never use in everyday life. The words difficult and boring come to mind when they mention mathematics.
It is true that numbers and equations don’t look as exciting as science experiments or the games played in Physical Education class. Nonetheless, math can be a lot of fun when taught the right way. Besides, we actually use math all the time without even realizing it. Mathematics is also the basis of a lot of other scientific fields, such as chemistry, astronomy and physics. But did you know that math notions are also present and necessary in subjects like arts, music, writing, cooking and social studies?
The big question is: how do we manage to create interest in math from a very young age? Is there at least a way not to discourage kids from learning math? What are the best strategies to develop our children’s mathematical intelligence?
One Stone at a Time
The first piece of advice we can give teachers and homeschooling parents is not to rush the process. Math knowledge is built one stone at a time, just like a huge skyscraper that needs solid foundations. If children do not possess the basic math notions, they will feel left behind during all their school years. You also have to take into account that every child possesses his or her own rhythm, so we have to differentiate the teaching and be patient with some students!
Most adults who are struggling with mathematical concepts did not receive the proper education to build a strong base. Remember that math is not only for calculations, it also improves cognitive development in plenty of areas. It helps establish cause-and-effect relationships more easily and organize daily life with greater ease.
Show Kids Math in Real Life
The first math notions do not appear in math class but in everyday life. Children know the difference between one or two cookies! They also know what more and less mean! They can also make out circles from squares too. So use every occasion to teach math in a fun way, for example when you are calculating a budget for grocery shopping or the distance from home to school, following a recipe, playing a card game, building a Lego construction or observing mathematical patterns in nature!
At Each Age Its Skills
Babies start classifying and understanding causes and effects and develop a sense of sizes and quantities. Toddlers from 1 to 2 years old can match basic geometrical shapes, start spotting patterns and exploring measurements. Preschoolers recognize geometrical shapes in real life, sort things out by size or height, count up to 20, solve their first puzzles and can predict the effect of a cause. Kindergartners can recognize numbers when written, draw symmetrical objects, read basic maps and can conceive the basic time concepts.
First and second graders can create their own patterns, differentiate between 2D and 3D shapes, count to 100, do basic additions and subtractions and can recognize the value of money. Third graders know how to do basic multiplication and division, add and subtract with regrouping, and can solve math problems with hands-on methods. Fourth and fifth graders start applying their knowledge in real life, use more than one way to solve problems, understand fractions and decimals, and can do 2 and 3-digit multiplications and long divisions(source).
Now let’s have a look at some activities that can help get children interested in the science of all sciences, from the more basic to the more advanced!
8 Activities to Make Your Children Love Math
1. Know Your Numbers
Usually kids already know how to count to 10 before they start recognizing numbers. A great way to help them recognize figures is to associate them with objects they can actually see and count, as shown on this worksheet. They can check the reference sheet and then draw their own set of animals or objects until they get to the right number.
2. Counting and Coloring
To associate basic counting with a skill that children already master will make it easier. That is why there are many activities that associate counting and coloring. You can color the right number of certain objects, for instance apples or dots on ladybugs. They can also use coloring games to create a beautiful drawing by associating a color with a certain number.
3. Draw the Line
To practice the sequence of numbers and learn them in the right order, kids can use games that consist of connecting the dots to create the contour of a specific object or animal. You can find simple drawings to count from 1 to 10 or more advanced worksheets to count from 1 to 110!
Some activities are like a quest where you have to count and spot specific elements or animals. These activities are also beneficial for spatial and visual ability. So make them look for Halloween symbols or wild animals!
Now children know how to count, it is time to learn basic operations, such as additions and subtractions. You can offer classical operations but also make them think differently by having operations with unusual presentations, such as triangles or circles!
6. Let’s Play Games
When it comes to geometry, children start by recognizing basic 2D shapes in their daily life. So always try to relate squares and circles with objects they already know. Then make them color these objects or count them!
8. Build Pyramids and More!
There is nothing better than a hand-on activity to make them realize what a 3D shape is! These wonderful 3D shapes worksheets will make them use their cutting and pasting skills. Besides, they can learn all the basic characteristics of a pyramid, a cone, a prism or a cube.