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Helping Children Learn Mathematics

Updated on July 20, 2012

Attitudes About Math are Important

The attitude children have towards math is important. The reservation and fear many people exhibit often puts mathematics in a negative light. Just think about your own experiences with the subject. When you were in school did you feel math was difficult or boring? Was it a chore to get through your studies? Did it frustrate you or ever not make sense? Many people will answer yes, to at least one of these questions, and for that reason we need to keep our attitudes in check. We do not want to pass on a negative mind-set about math to our children. For instance, it has been a belief for people to think boys are naturally better in mathematics then girls. According to an article in Science Daily (Jan 5, 2010) — Girls around the world are not worse at math than boys. Could it be that we are nuturing false beliefs about mathematics and these attitudes are affecting the success of children? Young children are naturally enthusiastic learners. They start out liking numbers and math concepts but if the wrong message is communicated, kids in public school often develop math anxiety and end up disliking it altogether. The way educators and parents approach the subject can make a real difference in the math achievement of children. To foster a positive attitude, in ourselves and in our children, it helps to understand the myths about math that many people hold.

Myth 1
Apptitude for math is inborn.
Like reading, the majority of people have the ability to do math.
Myth 2
To be good at math you have to be good at calculating.
To understand mathematics is to know it is a science in ideas, not in calculations.
Myth 3
Math require logic, not creativity
The introduction of abstract ideas and creativity into mathematics are what gave birth to music as we know it today.
Myth 4
In math the importance thing is to get the right answer.
It is important to strive for the right answer but more important is understanding the concepts and process for getting there.
Myth 5
Men are naturally better than women at mathematics.
There is no basis for such a belief but sadly this gender bias continues to persuade people’s outlook on math.

The essence of mathematics is not to make simple things complicated, but to make complicated things simple. ~S. Gudder

Understanding the myths that surround mathematics can help to change the negative attitudes people may hold towards it.To help our children in this subject parents and educators must remove these myths from the mainstream thinking. We do not want the girls thinking they are not as good as boys in math or that people need a special gene to really succeed. Research tells us that this is not true. Helping children to thrive in mathematics starts by sharing enthusiasm and a positive attitude; to combat the lingering myths that continue to exist in society.

Homework Tips for Parents

To help children on a daily basis in mathematics, the following homework tips are provided for parents and educators. Many of these tips will help children to be successful in other subject areas also.

  • Show a positive attitude toward mathematics and learning.
  • Value the process in mathematics as much as the product.
  • Make math meaningful by showing its importance in our world.
  • Have fun with math i.e. math website games, puzzles, board games.
  • Provide a supportive work environment with required materials.
  • Support your child to do their best and encourage responsibility.
  • Be a supportive listener and ask questions that help them to solve their problems.
  • Keep the lines of communication open with your child and encourage them to ask their own questions.

Everyday Activities to Help Teach Math

To help children make meaningful connections it is important they investigate the purpose and function of math in the world. The following activities will help parents and educators teach an understanding for mathematics as it applies to daily life. Teaching children the value of math in the world around them is an excellent way to foster enthusiasm and a positive attitude towards it.

  • Explore measurement by following a recipe for baking or cooking.
  • Estimate the bill when grocery shopping.
  • Read over some sports statistics with your child.
  • Discuss fractions the next time you share a pizza.
  • Play board games or math website games.
  • Use egg cartons or muffin tins (anything with columns or rows) to practice early math and division concepts.
  • Use items around the house to sort (i.e. buttons, coins, crayons, etc) and describe a sorting rule.
  • Identify and name shapes in the world all around.
  • Estimate the bill at a restaurant.
  • Estimate the speed of the car when driving or the distance to a destination.
  • Be open to math opportunties as they present themselves!

Go down deep enough into anything and you will find mathematics. ~Dean Schlicter


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    • Sturgeonl profile image

      Sturgeonl 5 years ago

      The nice thing about math is you can slip it into everyday activities. Making it relevant to the real world also helps with understanding concepts. Hope this helps out with your daughter. Thanks for sharing kerlynb!

    • kerlynb profile image

      kerlynb 5 years ago from Philippines, Southeast Asia, Earth ^_^

      You cannot imagine how glad I am to stumble upon your hub! My daughter's struggling with math and I really would like to help her out in this tough subject. Bookmarking your hub and voting it up and useful!

    • Sturgeonl profile image

      Sturgeonl 5 years ago

      Thanks for your comments teaches12345. I am grateful that you find this information valuable for professionals.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      I believe you have information that should be read by teachers. It is wonderful to see the statistics and the facts about math knowledge. I like the statement that it's not about getting the answer but knowing and understanding the process. The tips are creative and fun in teaching children the basic concepts of math which can be hard to grasp through rote learning. Voted up!