The pressure that comes from feeling like they have to immediately succeed at math can make kids, and adults, feel uncomfortable, anxious, and even think they hate math. “Math anxiety” is a term used to explain the nervousness and fear that comes with the pressure of having to do math. People can get stressed out about math in all forms. Whether it’s taking tests or trying to split a check, no one wants to do something they dislike. What can we do to make sure kids don’t hate math? Here are some tips to help kids not hate doing math. Hopefully, after this, you won’t hear kids yelling “I HATE math!”
Kids’s listen to the adults around more than you think
Spark Math by Spark Education knows how important math skills are. A study by Developmental Psychology showed that the way you learn and use math in kindergarten has a connection to how you will do in math for the rest of your life. Mind-blowing, right? It’s also a lot of pressure for parents whose kids may not love math. What parents, teachers and other adults say around a child might have more impact that adults think. What people say and do matters, so here’s a great way for kids to not start hating math.
1. Don’t Say ” I Hate Math”
Everyone has stubbed their toe and screamed in pain, sometimes with words that aren’t that polite. Everyone knows that kids love repeating the things their parents say, especially the bad words. A study conducted by the University of Queensland reports that young children learn from the actions of others around them, even from videos and television.
Parents need to try to watch what they say and do so that their kids don’t pick up their bad habits. The same thing can happen with math. If you show frustration and anger while doing math, especially while trying to help children with their homework, it can carry over to your child.
Even if you avoid saying out loud your dislike for math, you can still instill disinterest in math with complaints like “When am I ever going to use this stuff?”. Making math seem less important than it is, even unintentionally — sets a tone most parents probably wouldn’t want their kids to embrace early in their learning journey. So be careful what you say.
2. Show How You Use Math Every Day
Are you thinking about how much you can save shopping on when there’s a 20% off sale somewhere? That’s math. Making a new recipe you found online? That’s math, too.
The same way that kids pick up on the negative ways math can make people feel, they can do the same thing with the positive. For example, do kids love a meal you specialize in? Show them how to make it. Take some time to show them the importance of measurement, following directions, and adjusting the measurements if you’re cooking for more or less people than the recipe calls for. This is a fun way to use math in real life with your kids.
Cooking is filled with measurement, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division and more math concepts you probably don’t even realize you’re using. If using math leads to your favorite piece of cake, how can you possibly hate math? These little moments of every day math proves how math is a normal part of life — and how useful it is.
3. Learn with your kids. Together
We all need a math refresher from time to time. If you don’t keep up with what your kids are doing in school, you might get caught off guard when you try to help them. If your child is comfortable with math until they get to fractions, you might be off your game trying to remember the rules of adding and subtracting them, so make sure to consistently ask your child what they’re learning. Plus, helping them with their homework allows you to get an understanding of what to do, and maybe gives you time to refresh on ways you can help them. If you can’t help, you can find ways for them to get the help they need.
While we all know we can search for the correct answer on the internet, no one learns by just getting the answer. Working it out together helps kids develop the process and really start to understand concepts on a deeper level, something that will help them out in future math classes. And take the learning-together experience a step further, have children be teachers. Having them explain concepts to you also helps boost their math confidence, because what kid doesn’t like thinking they know more than their parents?
4. Have Fun with Math
When you were a kid, would you rather play games or do homework? Be honest. I think we would all rather play games. Learning doesn’t have to be boring and academic all the time. The best way to get better at something is to practice, and there’s no better way to practice something than finding fun ways to do it. That’s why there are so many math games and videos for each level of learning. Math games are great ways to practice and give kids a reason to keep learning. When your kid is excited to be challenged and succeed with what they know, math becomes less of a subject they have to learn and more of a skill they love using.
Just like any part of your child’s learning process, knowing what games and videos they are using to practice is so helpful. Games aren’t about learning new skills, they are about reinforcing and putting into action what they have learned at school. Sticking with games where the content is below what they are learning in school might stop them from advancing, while trying games that are too above their level might lead to them feeling frustrated and create math anxiety for skills they are going to learn in the next few years. So have fun with math, but make sure it’s a fun challenge.
5. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
No one expects you to be a math expert. There’s a reason people say “it takes a village” to teach a child. Your child’s teachers would love to know that parents are being proactive in trying to help their child’s understanding of concepts. School ends around 3 p.m in the afternoon, but learning never stops. Find out what’s working for other students, and what’s available to help students who are struggling with math. Sometimes people are worried that asking for help means they will be judged or made to look like bad parents, but nobody is perfect and all you can do is work toward finding answers to help your child.
Help isn’t just in-person anymore, either. Online programs, like Spark Math, are built to help children understand topics through online classes taught by experienced teachers filled with gamified and interactive learning techniques. Do your research and find what works best for your child to get a better grasp on learning.
No more math hate! Let’s work with our kids to figure out how to enjoy and have fun with math instead of dreading it. It’s time to say, “We love math!”
Spark Math by Spark Education online classes are for children from Pre-k to 6th grade. It is designed to be highly interactive, fun and integrated with activities young children love! Sign up for a FREE trial class today!