From sharing chocolates
with friends to watching cricket, mathematics is present in ever part of our
lives. You use fractions to divide chocolate equally and calculate
batting averages and run rates while watching cricket. Despite
its importance in our day-today lives, maths is the most hated subject for most
kids. Find out how you can get your child excited about math here.
Ask any child what he thinks of mathematics (also math or
maths), and the typical answers will be boring, difficult, or both. The fear of
anything to do with numbers is ingrained in not just children but also adults.
However, the fault lies not with this beautiful subject, but with
the teaching methods used to impart
it. No matter what age your child is, you could use the following
tips to make mathematics an enjoyable activity.
Discover the Importance of Mathematics Yourself
Before you teach your child, you need to understand the importance of
mathematics yourself. Otherwise, your child is likely to inherit your fear or dislike of maths. Understand
your concepts well before you explain them to your child.
Mathematics and the Real World
The common misconception
that people have about mathematics is that most of its concepts do
not have direct, day-to-day applications. Nothing could be further from the
truth. Adding, subtraction, multiplication, etc. have direct uses in our lives.
We also use more abstract mathematical concepts in our day-to-day
Take, for example, a
typical day in most people's lives. You wake up in the morning and watch the
weather forecasts, which have been calculated using complex equations.
You use fractions to divide fruits among the members of
your family. When someone offers you a lottery ticket, you calculate the probability of
winning. You probably avoid smoking because statisticssuggest that smoking causes
cancer. In cricket, you often refer to the batting averages and
So you see, mathematics governs our life in more ways than we could imagine.
The trick is to help your child understand the relationship between
complex maths concepts and the world around him.
Make mathematics part of your child's daily life. When he accompanies
you to the store, ask him to help you add the prices in a bill.
Make Learning Interesting
Once the great Albert Einstein was four years old and sick in bed. To overcome
his boredom, his father gifted him a magnetic compass. Young Albert was
fascinated by the fact that no matter which way he turned the compass, the need
would point in the same direction. He nurtured this fascination for natural
phenomena later in life to become the world's greatest physicist.
Similarly, you can provoke
your child's imagination and curiosity - which is never in short supply at that
age - by using everyday objects to explain mathematics.
Provide Real World Examples
Take a thread and make a
perfect circle (by tying it around a round object). Now let another piece of
thread pass through the centre of the circle. The ends of the second thread
should touch both sides of the circle. Ask your child to measure the
two threads. Divide the first (circumference) by the second (diameter) to get a
number that is approximately equal to 3.1415926. Try it for different circle
sizes. The number is always the same and is known as 'pi'.
You could explain
other concepts such as the Fibonacci sequence, zero, golden mean,
etc. in the same way.
Some more examples:
Explain geometry by showing flower petals to depict symmetry or
volcanoes to depict a cone.
Show him a photo of a beehive and ask him why cells are
hexagonal (the answer: hexagons fit most closely together without any
Show him patterns in nature. Most shapes in nature are circular or
spherical. A drop of water in outer space would be spherical but gravity
distorts its shape.
Tell him fun facts. Among shapes of the same
area, a circle has the least perimeter (the length of the line enclosing
Provide a Background
Sometimes, it is necessary
to explain how a theory was developed before explaining what the theory is.
This gives your child the necessary context and a window into the
mind of mathematicians. For example, the famous story of Archimedes could be
used to explain the principle of displacement. Explain the contributions of
great Indian mathematicians such as Aryabhatta so that your child can
develop a greater respect for the subject.
Teach the Vocabulary of Math
One reason why children
find maths intimidating is that the terms and notations used are confusing.
Help your child learn the basics by using flash cards, games, toys
such as building blocks, and diagrams. Also, use lots of puzzles. Try
formulating problems while teaching him a concept. For example, how would he
divide three bananas among his four friends? This will help
your child understand the formulation of a problem.
Use Faster Methods
There are numerous books
and techniques available on faster ways to add, subtract, multiply, and divide.
Vedic mathematics and Russian Peasant's Method of Multiplication are
some notable examples. By using such methods, your child can easily develop confidence.
As you can
see, mathematics need not be boring. It all depends on how you
teach it. If your child finds mathematics difficult, do
not be disheartened. Be positive at all times. Remember,
learning mathematics is not just limited to getting a good
score in an examination but is a
window to the amazing world that we live in.
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What do you think of mathematics? Does your child find mathematics interesting? Do you know any ways to make mathematics interesting for children?
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