It’s critical for students to understand that math goes beyond textbooks and tests. From a young age, children should see all the practical applications math has in everyday life. Being able to understand math concepts and apply them in real life situations is important – and this is where transfer of learning comes in. Transfer of learning is about using the knowledge people have learnt and applying it to a new context. This is a process that students can all benefit from, and is especially helpful for their working life in the future.
At Spark Math, our methods emphasise the importance of transfer of learning. To give you ideas on how you can get your child to apply the tactics they learn beyond math class, we’ve written a post to provide tips on what you can do. Here are the top 3 ways primary school students can transfer their math learning into new situations.
1) Counting Money and Time
Even kindergarten students have money on their minds. They might be counting all the coins in their piggy bank or the money grandma gave them for Chinese New Year. Whenever we think of money, we are making calculations and doing math. It’s important children know this and transfer the math they learn in school to their own finances.
Some situations whereby you can connect them to math concepts are:
- Saving Up for Toy (Addition)
- Seeing Difference in Price (Subtraction)
- Splitting a Meal (Division)
- Skip Counting with 5’s and 10’s (Multiplication)
- Making Change (Division)
Phones and digital clocks will never fully replace analogue clocks. Telling time is a great life skill that involves a few key math skills. Telling time is an ideal opportunity for students to repurpose their skip counting strategy. When they get more comfortable with multiplication, they can transfer 5 times tables to quickly tell time.
Here are some questions you can ask your child:
- How much time is left?
- How long until dinner?
- When is school out?
- How many minutes until recess?
2) Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
These are two essential education and life skills required for success in math. Critical thinking and problem solving come with the territory of math learning and thus students can transfer this into other subjects. Beyond school, when we need to make tough choices, we rely on critical thinking. One of the big reasons Spark Math steers away from rote memorisation when learning math is to develop critical thinking skills for our students.
This is a more abstract concept when compared to something concrete like telling time, but the applications are plentiful.
Making Decisions: Math promotes problem-solving skills and students who are critical thinkers have better reasoning abilities, and therefore can make more analytic decisions
Analysing Situations: When faced with any obstacle, students can understand what needs to be done to overcome it and create a plan.
Explaining Their Viewpoints: Students will be able to clearly articulate themselves in writing or speaking because they have a grasp of logic and reasoning
Draw Conclusions: Critical thinkers can make conclusions and inferences about the world around them because they’ve been trained to think that way.
3) Math in Sports
Transferring learning into a hobby can make all the difference in the world for some children. Some students may not be a fan of math but when you put math in the context of a sport they can quickly change their tune. Sports can have basic math, such as counting, and complicated math like statistical analysis. Students struggling to learn a new concept like percentages might have a better time if you change the context.
Instead of equations, it can make more sense to discuss how well their favourite basketball player did today. Young learners can add up the points scored by their favourite player during the match. Older students might be able to calculate their 3-point shooting percentage, or the percentage of missed shots by a certain player. At the end of the day, anything that gets them excited about learning is a huge positive.
Transfer of learning will make students better in and outside of math class. Applying strategies in many contexts creates a well-rounded student. Start leading your child down the path of being a versatile learner at a young age. This habit will pay off in the long run. Want to know more about Spark Math and how we use transfer of learning? Check out our post that explains transfer of learning in greater detail.