Teaching a child math can be frustrating at times because concepts that seem so simple and self-explanatory to an educated adult might seem completely foreign and hard-to-grasp for a toddler. It’s easy to get discouraged and feel as though your little one will always be behind the class in math, but fortunately, most delays in fundamental math are easily corrected. With that said, here are eight quick and simple tips you can use to improve your child’s ability to learn basic math at home.
Use a Proven Math Program
While there are ‘proven’ math programs like the Kumon method, those are actually best suited for students who learn best by rote. Most of today’s teachers understand that several generations of math students have fallen behind because they were raised on the Kumon concept. It is not bad, but a Kumon review will show that this is not the best program for critical thinking and complex problem solving so necessary in today’s world. A program like Thinkster seeks to work more with word problems and critical thinking right from the very beginning – a definite plus in today’s highly complex world of technology.
Use Flash Cards
When it comes to learning the fundamentals, what could be better than flash cards? These help young children to learn numbers and the four basic functions, but beyond that, when it comes to math, flash cards really are not one of the better tools for teaching math at home. They are, however, useful with thought association that prepares them to start working on mental math. Pictures in conjunction with functions can help them learn to solve problems using mental math. It’s all in how you choose to use them. It’s even more fun if you have the kids make their own!
Here is one of the areas which many parents don’t understand. Have you ever wondered why schools will have daily, semi-weekly or weekly quizzes? Quizzes help to assess where kids are in terms of skills they’ve mastered so that teachers can slow down or give remedial help if they haven’t fully mastered concepts. Parents, when working with your kids, quiz often!
Teach Smaller Kids Using Countable Objects
When it comes to preschoolers, countable objects are so much fun. A couple of tips here would be to use treats they can eat if they get it right or brightly colored objects so that they can learn their basic colors at the same time. How many orange jelly beans are on the table? If they identify and count those orange jelly beans accurately, they get to eat them. How fun is that?
Play Memory Strengthening Games
There are a number of memory strengthening games out there but perhaps one of the most popular would be Simon Says. Simon says do this. Simon says do that. As you add motions to the game, sometimes doing up to half a dozen things before asking them to repeat what you’ve done, kids learn to memorize steps in order. This prepares the brain to learn steps/functions in an equation. Mental exercise at its best in a game played with the body! Remember, if they ‘do that’ they sit down and are out of the game! So much fun!
Too many kids today rely on computers. Whatever happened to good old fashioned memorization? Have them memorize their multiplication tables for starters. See how quickly they learn to do easy calculations in their heads!
Emphasize the Importance of Mental Math
This is the point where you start talking to them about the importance of mental math. Use real-life examples so they begin to see that they don’t always need a computer to survive everyday life. For example, talk to older kids about figuring out directions based on where the sun is on the horizon. Yes, kids today are dependent upon Google Maps and GPS apps on their mobile phones, but what happens if there is no reception or your battery dies when you just happen to be lost in the woods. Mental math can help them calculate where the sun is in relation to the time of day and in what direction they should be heading. Kids actually love learning that kind of stuff, believe it or not – especially if combined with a field trip.
Check Their Skills in the Car
How many times have you gone on a rather lengthy drive in the car, only to have the kids complaining that they are bored just a few miles from the house? Why not make a game of checking up on some of their skills while driving in the car? For example, you could get a contest going with the game I See a Color. Then tell them to work on blue as an example, or red, or green, or brown or any color you want! The child who is able to find the most things in the color of your choosing within the allotted period of time is the winner. Offer a prize such as the winner gets to choose where they eat lunch or what they can have for dessert. It’s amazing just how you can fill the time on a long drive while teaching them a few basic math or vocabulary skills.
Have Patience and Be Persistent
In closing, even if you utilize all of the tips given above, there’s still a chance that your kid might take a while to catch on. Getting over educations hurdles can be a process, and it doesn’t always happen overnight. You may find that you need to hammer home the same elementary concepts for weeks on end to get them to stick, but with each passing achievement, your little one will get better at picking up on new concepts.
The biggest mistake many parents or tutors make is letting their frustration become apparent while teaching. If the child is being intimidated by your aggravation with them, they won’t be able to focus on solving problems to the best of their ability because they’ll be too nervous and anxious about impressing you. Let things flow naturally and be consistent with your efforts to see tangible results.