If you ask educators (or kids) which subject yields the most frustration or elicits the most sighs, chances are math is the one that ranks the highest. It is a subject that can cause a great deal of stress for people. Sometimes, kids can have so much stress associated with math that they shut down at the mere mention of a math lesson. However, math can be an enjoyable (and practical) subject. Here are a few ways that you can make math more fun for kids.
Make It a Game
I can’t think of many people who don’t enjoy playing a fun game. I think that most kids love playing games. Fortunately, there are plenty of board games that incorporate math in a way that is organic and enjoyable. For example, most board games afflinks (like Chutes and Ladders)that have tokens involve being able to count spaces. Some games (like Hi Ho Cherry-O) ask that you count pieces. Games like Monopoly require that you be able to add and subtract as you count money. There are even logic games (like Balance Beans) that require you to work out mathematical equations as you play.
Read About Math
Math can come alive when shared in stories. There are many picture books and chapter books that use stories to introduce concepts in a way that is relevent to the reader. Switch things up and have math story time! And don’t think that this is an option just for younger students– older children benefit from reading good math stories too.
Use Real Life Examples
“Why do I need to know the quadratic formula? I’m ever going to use this in real life?” This type of statement has been uttered by many students. And while the use of the quadratic formula outside of school may, in all fairness, be a rarity, math in general is something that we use on a regular basis. We need to know math to be able to cook tasty food, count the money that we earn, and tell how much time we have left before a fun event starts. Show your children all of the many reasons they should learn how to do math and give them plenty of opportunities to practice by letting them do things like help you cook, keep track of the cost of things you put in the grocery cart to estimate how much the final price will be, and sort/count all of your bills and coins afterwards. By understanding and familiarizing themselves with the practical applications of math, they may gain more interest in learning it.
Leave Your Math History at The Door
Have you ever said out loud “I was never good at math” or “I hated math”? I know I have heard many parents complain that math was never their favorite subject or their strong suit. On the flip side, I have also heard people say things like “I don’t understand why people hate math. I loved it!” While we may view these types of statements as just voicing our experiences with math (trust me, I’m guilty of this as well), when you say them to or around your children, it can have a damaging effect – especially if they are struggling to enjoy or understand math. Telling them that you were never good at math may take away ay resolve they had to be good at it (after all, if you weren’t good at it or didn’t like it, why should they?). Conversely, talking about how much you loved and excelled at math may make them feel as though they are silly or stupid for not having the same experience. Instead of talking about your specific experiences, be more general. Say things like “math can be a challenge subject, but if we keep practicing, it becomes more understandable” or “there are so many ways we use math every day – it’s such an important subject to learn”. This frames their need to learn (as well as any challenges they may be facing) in a positive light.
These are just a few examples of ways we can make math more fun for kids. What are some ways that you try to inject a bit of fun in math lessons? Let me know in the comments below.