Helping your child get better at maths can be a big ask, if your child is unwilling or you’re pushed for time (or if maths isn’t your strong point). If that sounds like you, these tips from Mathnasium might help.
Mathematics in Australia is in crisis, with Education Minister Dan Tehan saying students “results should have alarm bells ringing”. The recent Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) showed Australian students did not reach the OECD average for mathematics for the first time in 19 years (and since 2003, Australia’s results in maths have declined further than any country but Finland).
But the reality is any major change to curriculum will be a long-term exercise.
The good news? As parents we can play a major role in assisting our children’s learning and can be instigators of change well before the system catches up.
Helping your child get better at maths: Top Tips
1. Demonstrate a love of learning
Does this phrase sound familiar? “I’m not good at maths, but I made it through life just fine.”
It might seem like a simple statement to help placate a child that is struggling with maths, but the reality is sharing such a statement could have a long and profound effect on a child that interferes with their learning. Being responsible for helping your children develop a confidence and love for maths, and learning in general, is a gift worth sharing.
Maths challenges students not just intellectually but also emotionally and psychologically. Through learning you deal with adversity, frustration, feeling embarrassed, incompetent, inadequate, overwhelmed, but also pride, accomplishment and satisfaction. It shows children how to dig deep and initiate their own empowerment, which is something students can carry into other areas of their life and learning to their benefit.
2. Try a new workout… Mathsercise!
Just like daily exercise is recommended for optimal health, regular learning is also a secret to success. We need to focus on making maths a normal part of each day. Practising and improving basic skills just a little every day – addition, subtraction, multiplication and division – will go a long way to helping children foster a respect for the subject and excel at it.
It can be as simple as:
- Getting the kids involved in basic addition at the supermarket
- Reciting timetables together
- Cooking together and working out fractions in the recipe
- Doing some extra maths equations as part of homework
It’s all about doing things that make maths fun and helps build their confidence in the subject.
3. The key to helping your child get better at maths? Listen
Take time to sit with your children and find out how they feel about maths. Sometimes children will be reticent to admit they don’t understand something or are struggling. If they love maths and excel at it, embrace that as well. Many of the future jobs globally will rely heavily on maths so we need to make a shift regarding mathematics in this country to ensure our children can compete. It is very interesting to note that all the top performing countries in the PISA report made a maths compulsory subject. While this is not in all schools, we can easily make maths part of everyday by introducing the concept of ‘mathsercise’ in your home. And we all know the saying… practice makes perfect.
4. Help them at home
Here are some tips to make maths easy at home, based on the unique combination of mental, verbal, visual, tactile, and written techniques.
- Have kids use cash/coins instead of cards to pay for things. Have them calculate how much a few items will cost and the expected change.
- Use analog clocks and have children tell time that way, or buy them a watch with an analog clock.
- Let them help with cooking/baking to learn about measurements and calculations – halve or double a recipe for added practice.
- Have them measure things in the house using their hands, feet, and a ruler to compare.
- At Easter have them create a bar chart of the types or names of lollies/eggs they get and how many.
- At the supermarket have them weigh different produce to get an understanding of weights.
Mathnasium is a specialist learning centre based in Hornsby. It is currently offering at home on-line learning for students. Find them in the North Shore Mums Directory here.
The Mathnasium Method™ of teaching provides children all over the world increased confidence, critical thinking skills, and mathematical ability to last a lifetime. Find your closest centre here.