Making sure that children establish a strong understanding of math fundamentals at a young age is one of the best ways to prepare them for success, now and in the future.
In this day and (digital) age, math is used in varying degrees in every aspect of life. Children need to have solid math fundamentals to be able to progress. A lack of it will result in more time spent on catching up. As each math topic builds upon prior knowledge, it is extremely important that children lay the foundation of the subject as early as possible.
Below are ways that parents can help their children to develop early math skills.
Understand the ultimate mathematics learning goals
Stop for a moment and remind yourself and your child of the goals that you’re both trying to achieve when learning math fundamentals. If they’re along the lines of…
- to finish the chapter by the end of the month
- making sure that the child passes the upcoming test
- the child being able to add, simplify and multiply fractions
Then, these are only subgoals, or milestones. These represent how your child is going to learn math concepts, but not why these are important concepts to learn. Explain and emphasize the why more than the how, and your child is more likely going to get excited about math.
We suggest the following ultimate mathematics learning goals:
- To understand the information around us – a lot of this information is scientific, and hence to read through it requires a good understanding of statistics, probability, and such.
- To help them properly manage their finances later in life – from everyday purchases to taxes to loans, it’s better to get them started young. The important math concepts to grasp are proportions and percentages.
- To help them develop their deductive reasoning skills – high school geometry, for example, helps children to practice using previously known facts and making a logically sound conclusion.
As parents, the more you can keep these bigger pictures – real goals – in mind, the better you and your child can connect subgoals to them. For instance, adding, simplifying and multiplying fractions connect with the broader goal of understanding part-and-whole relationships. And this will eventually lead to ratios and proportions. Besides, fractions are a necessary basis for solving rational expressions in algebra. And so on. As you can see, these subgoals are important stepping stones for your child’s math (and overall) education.
Make math more accessible to children
A big reason why children find learning math frustrating is that basic math concepts are often presented through tedious and confusing worksheets. And there is a lot of it! Hence, children tell us they don’t like math or they’re bad at it. What we really need to do then is to deliver hands-on learning and real-world applications because these methods are proven to be effective at boosting engagement and recall of material. This way, we help make math fundamentals more accessible to children.
Here are some real-world math games and activities that you can try with your child:
Math Goodies – A curriculum containing hundreds of in-depth, interactive lessons covering various math fundamentals.
Practical Uses of Math and Science (PUMAS) – Real-life applications of math fundamentals for K-12 students.
YummyMath – Resources to help increase student engagement and critical thinking when it comes to math fundamentals.
Music Through the Curriculum – Engaging activities that mix music with math fundamentals, such as adding fractions to make rhythms.
Have the right tolls to teach math to children
As parents, don’t stress about having all the math tools that a teacher would use. Instead, focus on quality, not quantity, and learn how to properly use the tools you have on hand. Below are some basic tools to have when you’re helping your child to learn math at home.
- A whiteboard or blackboard, or paper to draw and write on (though erasable boards are more environmental-friendly).
- Manipulatives, a.k.a. physical objects, that your child can play around in their hands to get a better understanding of certain math concepts. These objects could include but not limited to measuring cups, wooden blocks (or Legos), stopwatch, abacus, ruler, and scales.
- Curriculum textbooks and worksheets – ask your child’s teacher how you can access these resources at home.
With the right tools in hand, you can also include online math games to keep your child engaged.
Enlist the help of an online math tutor
Providing your child with help to strengthen their math fundamentals is an enormous task. So why not hire a math tutor, who can design a personalized learning plan for your child and work with them closely to help them reach their goals? And better yet, hire an online math tutor on TutorOcean’s platform because it’s far more flexible and convenient (no more driving around!), you can choose from a much wider pool of tutors, and your child can learn from the safety and comfort of your own home. Plus, with all tutors vetted and sessions recorded, your child is safe as can be!
Not only can tutors help your child get better grades, but they can also help them get ahead and excel in their courses. Search for tutors here!