Math-phobia is the fear of math. Many of us parents who grew up in “the system” suffer this and inadvertently pass it on to their impressionable children. Here are 10 of the most important things you can do today to prevent your child from fearing math and even encourage them to like it. As parents, we all want cool (or at least socially acceptable) kids who can do math well.
1. Change Your Attitude
In life, and especially in parenthood, attitude is everything. Children pick up on our feelings about things, no matter how subtle we think we are being. Be very careful about what opinions and insecurities you hold. Sometimes, children can be influenced by attitudes we aren’t even consciously aware we have. Doing some introspective work can help identify your attitudes and be more aware of what you might be imparting to your children.
2. Read Together
There are so many benefits to reading aloud to your children. You can get more bang for your reading buck by reading math stories together. Especially for kids who may be resistant to math, slipping some math into their storyline is like sneaking vegetables into their spaghetti sauce. They will never know that they are learning math. ;) Moreover, all you need to do is read like you do already.
3. Play Games
It is said that children’s work is play. Play is actually an extremely effective way to learn. If you and your kids don’t like math, then finding ways to make math fun is essential to turn things around. There is a whole list of math-in-disguise games and resources on our website.
4. Stop Buying Toys
Kids don’t need most of the crap that is marketed to them. In fact, the more toys they have, the more crap there is to manage. Managing crap takes time and leaves less time for the more important things in life, like math ;). Eliminating nonessential clutter from the playroom (or better yet, don’t acquire it in the first place) and replacing it with a few key items will ensure that kids will make the most efficient use of their play time. A ton of learning happens during play, but only when the play is of higher quality. For example, there is a big difference between the brain activity of a child who is playing a mainstream video game, and a child who is building freely with Legos. Both children are “playing,” but the quality of play that they are engaged in is quite different. Legos, blocks, and puzzles are just a few of the high quality “toys” that can help your child develop a variety of mathematical concepts. Best of all, your child and you will have fun and never feel like you’re “doing math.”
5. Let your Child Star in the Real World
I don’t mean MTV. I mean get your children involved in your everyday adult tasks that require math. For example, baking requires working with fractions and and various measurements. Children as young as 4 can be helping in the kitchen, getting familiar with different tools. Children 6 and above can begin following simple recipes and baking with assistance. Older children of reading age can follow recipes and begin baking independently. Use your best judgement. After all, you know you child best. Cooking is just one example of many tasks your children can perform where they are actively utilizing practical math skill. Real world experiences make the very best math lessons because they are the most relevant. Kids can feel a sense of accomplishment and confidence when they are allowed to participate in activities they feel are meant for more adults.