If you’re looking for ways to make learning math easier on your children, you’re not alone. Math is the one of the most hated subjects that kids complain about the most. But here’s the thing about unhappy children who complain about math: it almost always means that they are struggling!
The reality is that math presents a unique learning challenge for children. It requires repetition to master, which can be boring for children (or people of any age, really). So the problem isn’t really that math is too “difficult”; it’s just that kids can get bogged-down by the learning process involved.
The tips here focus on practicing the “math lifestyle” that can help put kids on the path towards becoming math machines. If you want your children to perform better at math, get higher test scores and be happier at school, here are 6 math practice tips for kids that actually help.
Math Practice Tip #1
Be an ambassador for ‘Challenge’
Math is challenging – we know this! But just because something is challenging doesn’t mean it isn’t worthwhile. As adults, mentors and parents, we can strive to be champions of “challenge”, helping kids know that difficult things are almost always worth doing. Does that mean you should take your child on a vision quest for their 10th birthday? Not quite. Just reinforce the idea of challenge as a positive force in our lives whenever you can. If your kids buy-into this philosophy, they might be more willing to do the work it takes to become a math superstar in the long run.
Math Practice Tip #2
Embody the Math Lifestyle
Math is everywhere! As a parent, you can motivate your children in fantastic ways by showing them all the ways that math is all around them. It might be things that seem routine and mundane to you, but if a child can grasp the link between ‘math’ and ‘their world’, it just might entice them to be more diligent at school.
It’s not necessary to channel your inner Bill Nye and quote physics equations every time your children ask a question. Focus on keeping it simple. Try to include your children in math-oriented tasks like baking or paying bills. Maybe you can direct attention to patterns or geometric shapes as they pop-up. There are endless examples of math in our lives – it doesn’t take much to point them out!
Math Practice Tip #3
Technology is your Friend
If you’ve ever held a smartphone or tablet near a child, you’ve probably noticed that most children are drawn to these devices. Heck, we are all drawn to them! You can use this to your advantage. There are many math focused apps that can help your kids build a foundation for math skills – and some of them are actually fun. Combine these apps with an environment that makes math interesting and suddenly your child might actually be enjoying the process!
Math Practice Tip #4
Consider a Math Tutor
Sometimes your kids hit little walls in math. If that’s the case, you could always hire a math tutor to reinforce the lessons your kids have been learning at school. With math, as we alluded to before, much of a child’s potential success is based on drilling and repetition. A math tutor could be a helpful ally in getting your child through a tough spot, but keep in mind that finding a good tutor is another challenge all by itself.
Math Practice Tip #5
Consider an After-School Program
Full disclosure: Kumon, the company behind this article, runs after-school math programs. But Kumon programs are some of the longest running and most successful after-school programs in the world, so we feel like we have some pretty good insights! A good after-school program will do more than give kids a way to answer test questions; it will help them to reach their full potential. Combine these lifestyle tips with a proven learning program and before you know it, your kids might be teaching you a thing or two!
Math Practice Tip #6
When all else fails… Commiserate!
Empathy can go a long way. The next time your child complains about homework or school, try telling them that you had similar struggles! Humanizing the process can really help kids to face their fears surrounding it. When kids hear that their parents faced down the same struggles they are currently dealing with, it can really open their eyes. They might think, “Hey, if my mom or dad could handle this, I can too!” Let your children know they aren’t alone.
Looking for ways to motivate your children to perform better? Kumon’s programs have helped over 4 million children in 49 countries with their proven education method. Get started by booking a parent orientation today!