Watching a child struggle in school is never easy, and it can be difficult to explain to a crestfallen elementary school student that you are not angry about their poor grades, but concerned for their academic wellbeing because you want them to have the best shot at life possible.
One area that can be particularly difficult in this regard is mathematics. A high degree in competence can unlock wonderful opportunities for kids further down the road, but for a ten year old working their way through fractions and geometry, it can all seem very abstract and pointless.
That’s why the secret to success in math is building a link between what they are learning in school and the real world.
The Importance of Applicability
It is normal for children — and especially children under the age of ten — to struggle with abstractions. That’s why most math curricula for primary aged students focuses on simple concepts with real-world applicability (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, for example).
But even at the age when abstract thinking becomes possible, abstract mathematical concepts still evade many children. That’s why educators should always stress the relationship between the math being learned and the real world impacts it has.
Most students are willing to work hard when they have a clear sense of purpose and goals. While some kids may find math innately interesting, others want to know why they need to learn what they are learning. A good curriculum should be able to answer this question in a satisfactory way.
Making Math Fun
Unfortunately, our modern public school systems don’t always have the resources to help your kids build these connections between theory and practice. This means that parents often have to pick up the slack if they want to ensure their kids get the best possible education.
One way you can do this is by finding a math tutor near you who specializes in math tutoring and has experience with hands-on learning. Hiring a tutor who understands the curriculum your child is learning in school but also knows how to build creative activities into tutoring sessions will make math more fun and more meaningful.
Another thing you can do is give them the chance to participated in every-day activities that require some knowledge of math.
For example, asking your kids to help you in the kitchen is a great way to teach fractions and conversions through measuring cups, scales, and other ways of measuring mass and number. If you feel comfortable doing so, you might also show them how you handle money budgeting, so they understand how they will need to draw on the skills they are learning in class in their lives as adults.
There are many reasons students struggle with math, and these struggles often manifest in a variety of different ways. But in most cases the underlying problem is a failure to grasp the relationship between mathematical concepts and the material world kids navigate in the day-to-day.
By helping your child build intellectual connections between what they are learning and what they already understand, you can demystify math and help them achieve success.