Inspiring your child’s love of mathematics can be a challenge for many parents. Mathematics takes a lot of brain power and concentration, which most young children don’t perceive to be fun.
Introducing your child to mathematics in the right way can set them up for a positive attitude towards mathematics in later years.The problem solving nature of mathematics provides a wealth of opportunities for children to play and have fun whilst exploring numbers and mathematical concepts.
Many studies also show that early mathematics training in children provides huge benefits to a child’s development by rewiring the brain and helping children become more adept at problem solving.
Here are five ways to inspire your child’s love of mathematics at home:
1. Play mathematical games and puzzles
There are many mathematical games that suit young learners of all ages. Encourage your child to see mathematics as a game, not work, by playing logic puzzles, computer games, sports or family board games. A 2009 study conducted by Carnegie Mellon and the University of Maryland found that preschoolers who played Chutes and Ladders improved their mathematical skills significantly compared to those in the study who played a different board game or did non-mathematical tasks. Read some fun mathematical games and activities to do with your child at home.
2. Make mathematics meaningful and real
Children love to learn, but often they need to understand how the knowledge they’re learning will be made useful. Once your child can see how mathematics can be applied to real-life situations, they’ll become more eager to listen, ask questions, and look out for more opportunities to show you how well they’ve grasped the key concepts. You can integrate mathematics into everyday activities such as shopping, creating a weekly budget, cooking and watching sports. Read more ways to help your child apply mathematics to real world situations here.
3. Read books that include mathematical themes
There are many picture books for young readers which incorporate mathematics, such as having the main character solve a problem using mathematical logic. Some children’s book titles include One Hundred Angry Ants, How Many Bugs in a Box and Socrates and the Three Little Pigs. Choose books which incorporate mathematical concepts and integrate these into your regular reading routine.
4. Get familiar with early mathematical concepts
You can begin teaching your child mathematical concepts as early as the toddler stage. Get familiar with the early mathematical skills and concepts your child will need to know in their first years of school and help them prepare for formal mathematic instruction by introducing key concepts in a fun and play-based way. Some early mathematical concepts include fundamental number skills like number recognition, number words and counting, basic 2D shapes, and understanding simple concepts of size.
5. Use rewards and positive reinforcement
Positive reinforcement is a valuable tool to help your child learn. Not only does it make them aware that they have done something correctly, it helps boost their confidence and keep them motivated to continue learning, and perhaps, start tackling more difficult mathematical concepts.
Simple rewards like an encouraging word, smile, or even a hug are effective ways to communicate to your child that they are on the right track. You may also choose to reward your child with something tangible, like a sticker, upon completion of a mathematical problem or question.
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