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Sunday, February 25, 2024
Home Book Help your child with math

Help your child with math

I’m often asked by parents if there is anything they could (or should) be doing in the home environment to better support their child’s math learning or if there are summer math camps to help them retain knowledge during the summer. The trigger may be a disappointing school report, the start of a new school term or simply an inherent belief that their child could be doing better than they are currently doing.

And the answer is a resounding “Yes, you can help.” And the good news is that it needn’t be difficult or time-consuming to have an impact if you put a few of these tips into practice.

Maths ability is not set in stone and parents can help in very practical ways. Here are the 3 ingredients to get you started!

Step 1: Be aware

Learning math is like building a pyramid. Math skills such as counting, addition, subtraction etc are the foundation building blocks that make up the base. If one math skill doesn’t quite sink in, it makes the foundations shaky and new skills become harder to learn.

This is what causes children to start to lose confidence and fall behind. So early awareness of a potential problem is key so it can be addressed before confidence is damaged.

However, it can be tricky to really know how your child is doing in math – even after you’ve read the school report!

So here are a few tips to help build an accurate picture of your child’s math strengths and weaknesses (forgive me for stating the obvious here).

  • Speak to your child regularly – What are you doing in math this week?  How did you do in that homework / weekly test?

  • Look at his/her school books.

  • Check out the national curriculum to familiarise yourself with the skills your child will be working on in school

  • Speak to the teacher – they will have a good grasp of how your child is doing compared to what is reasonably expected for their age.

Read: Spectrum 1.1b 22.5b financialtimes.

Step 2: Practice

Maths, very much like sports or music, is a skill that needs practice. But don’t just take my word for it:

  • Professor Brian Cox“I’m not a natural mathematician but few people are…you have to practice.”

  • Marcus du Sautoy (Professor of Maths at University of Oxford), “Think of having a mathematical muscle in your mind that with practice gradually gets stronger.” I particularly like this idea of a “mathematical muscle.”

  • Colin Hegarty  “Do some maths every single day. Maths is one of those things you need to practice regularly.”

For the best outcome, the ideal plan includes a mix of different approaches to maths practice to develop true math fluency. And by that I mean:

  • Direct, targeted practice based on your knowledge of your son or daughter’s strengths and weaknesses, and complementing their school work. This the core of what is required (and where Komodo maths comes in). But tread a fine balance as too much/too often is likely to burn out even the most enthusiastic learner. (This is why Komodo uses a little and often approach – more of which later.)

  • Real world math. Math is all around us – so you can use everyday experiences to reinforce and develop math skills and vocabulary. Measurement, fractions, shapes, time and money all benefit from real world application and often can be naturally harnessed as a way to learn math. You just need to make a habit of it.

Step 3: Develop a healthy mindset

A healthy mindset towards learning math includes self-belief, confidence and the resilience to keep learning even when it gets tough .

  • Start with yourself and your partner – are you setting a good example? Throw away remarks like “I’m not good at maths,” “I hated maths at school” etc are picked up by children, influencing their attitude to maths. So show enthusiasm towards maths – even if you need to fake it!

  • Build confidence – if your child is struggling and has lost some confidence, go back a few steps to the skills that they feel comfortable doing and build from there.

  • Praise for effort, not performance – it’s continued effort that is important. Making mistakes isn’t bad, it’s a necessary part of the journey for every learner. Change “I can’t do it,” to “I can’t do it yet.”

  • Keep your little learner motivated –  a key role (and challenge) for parents. Think more carrot, less stick. And consider getting other family members involved in the all-important encouragement.

Related: What is Manga Owl Yaoi?

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