Numbers can be fun: Here are a few tips and tricks to help teachers and parents
We all know someone who has struggled or has been afraid of Maths problems or formulas. These feelings of anxiety and worry when taking a Maths test or doing homework is something many children and even adults relate to.
As STEM subjects are popular in India; the academic performance in mathematics has become a yardstick for measuring a student’s education competence. Most of the renowned academic institutions require good marks in mathematics as an entry requirement for a career in engineering, medicine, accounting, technology and other fields that majorly involve science.
It is imperative that we try and help students overcome the feelings of anxiety as having a positive outlook initiates creativity and curiosity towards the subject.
Here are a few tips and tricks that may empower teachers and parents:
1. Build Confidence: When a student feels more confident about their Maths abilities, they can overcome feelings of apprehension and uneasiness towards the subject. Parents and teachers should provide students with regular confidence-building exercises that look challenging but enable all students to do well. Also, praising kids for their efforts and the process of solving problems is more important than the actual end result. Praise can help encourage kids to keep trying rather than feeling disheartened for being wrong with their results. This boost in confidence and self-efficacy can decrease anxiety and fear, as students feel more and more capable and motivated to do well.
2. Be Creative: There is no one-size fits all approach to learning Maths. Since it’s such a broad subject that’s applicable in our everyday lives, educators need to be more creative in the way they teach it. There are a variety of edtech tools in the market to help students better understand Maths concepts and even practice at home.
3. Use References: Children tend to relate to things around us and the best way to get their minds running is to use resources from our daily lives to explain concepts and ideas. Like for topics such as integers, teachers or parents can make use of dice/buttons of two different colours to represent a positive and negative number. For ordinal numbers, an activity around standing height wise in the assembly will be fun and meaningful.
4. Explore Surroundings: Teaching math outside the classroom — in the park, on a city street or at a playground — is an effective way to engage Maths-averse students at all grade levels. Educators can take students for running or jogging around a park to understand the perimeter, make use of the sprinkler in the centre of the park to understand the area of circle or can use a thread around a pen to know its circumference.
5. Create Activities: There are many ways Maths can be made relevant and fun for kids – if your kid likes to bake, make him measure ingredients etc. Incorporate Maths into everyday activities and look for the little moments to discuss comparison, measurement, subtraction and addition. In addition to these activities, parents can make use of gamified practice platforms like iChamp where kids can play interactive online games which help practice Math concepts in a fun and engaging manner. Students unlock various levels based on the XP earned. Each level brings with it various surprises and rewards in terms of gold coins. The excitement of unlocking rewards through levels keeps the child practicing more and more questions, thereby improving their Maths skills.
(Shruti Chopra is Author - Mathematics School Books by Eupheus Learning. Views expressed here are personal)