Have you ever thought why do we learn maths?
Imagine your first grader stared blankly at the homework sheet in front of her. She sighed heavily, grumbled a long complaints, “Why do I need to learn maths? Why do we need maths? Can’t we just leave those numbers alone…..”
Does that sound familiar to you?
Why Students Hate Math
According to this survey, many Americans report feelings of anxiety and frustration when faced with having to do math. Nearly a third of Americans (30%) say they would rather clean the bathroom than solve a math problem.
So if math is really that scary, why bother to learn it, right?
Kelly T King, an educational consultant, discussed about three reasons why students hate math in her article published on HuffingtonPost. I very much agree with her that ‘nurture’ plays a bigger role in causing this fear and anxiety among children towards math.
I think all children are born with curiosity on everything around them. Including numbers, shapes, patterns, measurements; MATHS.
It’s often when they actually sit on class and being hurried to understand the abstract concepts of it, then it becomes a pressure. When they are not given enough chance to see and understand the real maths around them, they could hardly enjoy it anymore.
Math is really everywhere around us
This article defines math as the science that deals with the logic of shape, quantity and arrangement. Math is all around us, in everything we do. First thing, we need math, because it help us going through day to day activities better.
- In the morning you need to know what time you had to wake up, so you won’t be late for school. Know how to read time, is math.
- On the way if you’re taking bus to school, you had to know how many stops before you need to alight. Know how to count, is math.
- During your lunch break in the canteen when buying a meal, you had to know how much money you need to pay. Know your notes and coins, is math.
- When teacher gives you a bag of candies and asked you to share equally to all students in class, that’s math too.
- At home when you want to help your mom making that warm chocolate milk, you had to know how much sugar, chocolate powder, and milk to mix. Have you tried putting in too much cocoa powder in your drink? Taste awfully bitter! Knowing how to measure a proportion, is math too!
- And on, and on.
So why do we need to learn maths, really?
Math helps us to be more organised in our way of thinking.
Math is the language of logic. Math is an ability to find pattern among seemingly chaotic conditions.
Concept of sequence, for example, actually trains our minds to think in a more systematic and logical manner. In adult life, when facing with a big project, we’d learn how to divide it into smaller chunks of tasks, and then deciding which part should be finished after which. Without realising it, we’re using math concepts.
Math promotes patience and carefulness, attention to details.
Everyone knows you have to be patient and very careful doing math problems. So you don’t miss a step, and so you’re able to actually solve the problem until the end.
This too is an important ability to support us in our grown up life. It teaches us endurance in overcoming life’s challenges.
Encourage kids to love math doesn’t have to be difficult
Basically kids understand better when they’re seeing it, hearing it, and doing it altogether. They will benefit more when we encourage them to do hands-on activities in teaching them math concepts. And it doesn’t have to be with some expensive ‘educational toys’. You can make use of many daily objects to teach math at home.
You will read more in details on my posts throughout this site, but I just want to share some of my favourite ‘open-end’ multi-usage materials I used with my kids in learning thru play at home;
- popsicle sticks, the top of my list. I used both the plain ones and color ones. They’re great for counting, learning sequence, making shapes, making puzzles, etc. You can read my post on counting to 10 with jumbo popsicle sticks here.
- paper plates (or you can use any kind of disposable paper/bowls). These are great as containers, to act like spindler box Montessori style, to use in sorting colors/shape/numbers. They’re also good to make into a clock.
- wooden blocks or legos. Counting, color and shape recognition, even fractions. Another favorite of mine at our home is this wooden dominos. This is a perfect Montessori’s number rods’s spin-off! Read my post on using wooden dominos as number rods alternative here.
- beans, or rice. Bigger beans are great for counting (number bonds are easier with this!), rice or other small things are good for pouring practice for measuring. Sometimes I would prefer this instead of pouring water in my living room. Speaking about preference on cleaning up after. Lol.
- Any kinds of containers and used plastic bottle you can find in your kitchen. Enough said.
Read math stories to them!
For my kids, reading books makes deep impact on the stories and values behind it. There are some children books which tells stories as well as math concept. This is different from informational books on math. The latter usually only tells them about number, counting to ten, examples of shapes, opposites, and so on, without a story plot. They’re still good books, but sometimes kids get bored easily on that types. But not so if the books are really having a story. Two of our favorites are the famous board book “The Very Hungry Caterpillar“, or this “Curious George’s Opposites” (psst! You might want to save and get this Learning with George books set).
How about you? Do you have your own favorite at-home materials to use for play, or favorite math story books? Let me know!