Mathematics is often viewed as the dullest of subjects. There may be many reasons why a child takes a dislike for it, the method of teaching being the foremost. If the impression about a subject at the early stages of learning is flawed, the child might develop a lifelong dread and dislike for the same.
The key is to nurture an aptitude for the subject. It would be helpful to convince children that numbers and symbols could be their friends, that mathematics is a rich metaphor for life itself.
In the words of the famous British philosopher-mathematician Bertrand Russell, “Mathematics, rightly viewed, possess not only truth, but supreme beauty… capable of a perfection only the greatest art can show.”
A little care at the very beginning of learning could make the subject the most fascinating of all. Here are some simple strategies to teach math that could turn your little ones into mini mathematicians.
Learning numbers and learning to count them is the fundamental step to learning math. Once the child learns to count you can start to introduce basic principles of addition and subtraction. Any physical object that can be quantified in numbers—buttons, coins, money, books, bottles, trees, cars—could be turned into a learning tool.
Learning through games
Learning mathematics can be made fun by incorporating it in games. Several games can perfectly teach beginner level mathematics. Mathematics is not a subject to be learned by mugging up numbers or memorizing symbols. A game of Monopoly or Snake and Ladder can teach addition and subtraction better than a lesson on the blackboard. Building blocks and number card games will elevate math from an educational drill to an activity they enjoy.
In the kitchen
Every activity can become a fun learning experience. When preparing food ask the child to count the number of whistles from a pressure cooker or measure the quantity of ingredients that goes into a dish. If you are into baking cookies, ask the kid to cut the cookies into specific number of pieces, this would be a good lesson in counting. The visual and physical act of creating the pieces would leave a lasting impression on the child’s mind. Use Play-Doh or modeling clay instead of cookie dough to do the same exercise.
Travel and learn
While traveling, you can teach to check the speedometer to calculate the distance covered. This is also an easy way to teach children the concepts of meter and kilometer, minute and hour. If you are stuck in a traffic jam, give the task of adding the numbers on the license plates on the cars at the front. At a red light, ask them to count the number of cars of a certain color.
Take the kid along when you go shopping. You can easily explain the concept of price of an item, discounts if there are any and profit. Occasionally make him/her purchase things, pay the bill and ensure accurate balance amount has been returned to the shop.
Introducing the multiplication table is an essential step towards mastering mathematical problems. Teach single digit multiplication prior to introducing the child to a multiplication table. Learning and memorizing the table would make arithmetic operations with base ten numbers instantly easy for the child.
You can employ Albert Einstein’s learning technique of imagining questions as police/investigators and answers as crimes to be solved. Like the police would reach the resolution by connecting and solving clues in the right order, a math problem can be solved only by hitting the right equations.