26 June 2011

Who's Afraid of Math?

“Math anxiety is a common problem for children. Some of them would push away their notebooks at the sight of equations saying, ‘I can’t do it.’ Some would even cringe just by the mere mention of math. “

Math is one of the essential subjects that a child must learn and fear of it slows down progress. How should parents help their children overcome this attitude?


1. Show it.

Math is an abstract concept. There are words for certain concepts — but what are they? What is one? What is volume? What is a square? What is addition? Try to explain the definition to children through words and they will just give you blank stares.

2. Use child-friendly terms.

In relation to the previous number, let go of the terms. Instead of saying “Three minus two,” use words that a child would understand and use in a daily basis. Remember that children are still in the stage of building their vocabulary. Their existing vocabulary will help them learn new words. “You have three stuffed toys in the bag. I take away (or get) two. How many is left in the bag?” Once they have mastered and understood the concept of taking away, then it is fitting to introduce the word subtraction. “Take away has another name. It is called Subtraction.”

3. Relate it to everyday life.

Math was created to be used outside the classroom. Let the children realize that without math, we would not be able to survive. Addition, subtraction and multiplication are useful when paying the fare for the public transportation. Shapes are used to identify objects (the pizza is in the shape of a triangle, shoes are in the shape of oblongs, etc.) Algebra is used to magically discover the unknown. Plotting points on the axis is used by ship and airplane captains to navigate their way around the world. Solving the speed of a car will help Dad determine how fast he can get to work in the morning.

4. Practice.

In sports, coaches and trainers require their athletes to keep on repeating drills to perfect their skill. Same goes with math. Answering exercises regularly does wonders for mastery and understanding.

5. Don’t be afraid of math!

If you, parents, show fear and hesitation towards math, it is more likely that your child will feel the same thing. Answer math questions together. If you are not familiar with the topic, make some time to learn it yourself. If your child can learn it in school, you should too!

Drop the computer games for a moment, use bonding moments with math. Answer a problem together and compare solutions. It will be fun, especially if you all come up with the same answer.

 Math, or any subject, should never be feared.  Every word problem, equation is like a treasure chest. All it takes is the right combination and the right solution to decode and unlock the jewels inside it.

by: Tintin Bersola-Babao
       Philstar

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