Parents always want the best for their children, especially when it comes to their academic career.
For this exact reason, many parents start teaching their children basic maths or a foreign language at home while they are still very young.
But is this a good idea?
Of course, teaching methods play a big role when sharing knowledge with young children.
In order for them to be effective, the child must be engaged with the topic, whether it's counting, mental arithmetic, telling time, calculation of sums, or identifying polygons.
Approaching learning with a positive mindset and even taking the subject out of an academic concept can be key to maths mastery. For example, playing online math games and puzzles can help learners visualise maths problems in context without the pressure of an exercise format.
But what if your student has dyslexia or dyscalculia?
And is there a battle of the sexes when it comes to maths-based subjects?
Every Child is Capable of Learning Maths
Linguists recommend that when is comes to learning a language, the younger the better. This is because of the way young brains seek to acquire new languages, and by learning two languages, an infant could become bilingual.
But what about maths? Surprisingly, if you ask a mathematician, they will say the same thing.
A study by Michele Mazzocco at the University of Minnesota showed that even children who are not yet old enough to start school are capable or learning some easy maths concepts, such as geometry and symmetry, for example. However, the study also found that the parents' own difficulties could slow the progress of the child.
Just as with phobias such as going to the dentist, parents can pass on their fear of maths. This fear usually has its roots in sitting exams or being ridiculed for not being able to solve problems in school math such as probability and statistics, Pythagorean theorem, proportion, inequalities, algebraic expressions, complex numbers or vectors.
When the time comes for children to start primary school, interactive maths games can be fantastic for helping them understand and apply what they are being taught.
But are all children as capable as each other when it comes to learning math? There is no doubt that each and every child has a natural desire to learn more about the world around them. With a positive frame of mind and a good maths teacher, any child can see the fun side to maths.
And to complement their formal education, why not find a private maths tutor?
Private maths tuition at home or online tutoring can help make sure students are not falling behind their peers, as tutors look for strengths and weaknesses in pupils' knowledge to give them the tailored maths help they need with fractions, decimals, long division, addition and subtraction, place value and understanding maths vocabulary and notation.
With a math tutor, you can also take your learning further by looking deeper into maths questions to build a firm base for future study of trigonometry, square roots, coordinates and graphing, calculus, algebra, reasoning, geometry, multiplication and division, finding the exponent, polynomial, quadratic, integral and differential equations and problem-solving.
Help Your Child Learn with Maths Games
Parents tend to put their trust in school teachers when it comes to their child's education, however, there are things parents can do to help their children's maths along the way.
First of all, no matter how much stress maths may have caused you in your school years, learn to talk openly about the subject at home. This gives maths a place in your child's life outside of school, allowing them to feel at ease to ask you questions about homework help or the math problems they are studying and give them an appreciation of math for everyday life.
There are plenty of free online maths games and board games that can support your child's learning, so it's worth investing some time in these to help your children move away from the textbook and learn maths is fun.
It's not unheard of for an educator to use Lego to teach maths!
Learning is most successful when you're having fun. That's why learning through play is ideal for young children and students of any age who enjoy pracitcing maths. There are many maths websites including Math Playground and Primary Games Arena which are full of fun maths games for kids see how their math skills fare.
Maths is all around us, we just need to learn to appreciate it!
Advice for Teaching Maths to Children with Learning Difficulties
What should you do if your child has a specific learning difficulty (SpLD) such as dyslexia or dyscalculia? Do you need to adapt your methods to teaching maths?
As you are probably aware, dyslexia affects reading, writing and comprehension. When it comes to maths, this could mean difficulties solving maths word problems and what they are being asked to do. Dyscalculia is very similar, however, those affected have problems processing numbers rather than words.
SpLDs also affect short-term and working memory as well as concentration and organisation. So what is the most effective way of teaching children with SpLDs?
A multi-sensory approach to math learning can prove powerful as students receive information through several channels: sight, hearing, touch and movement. People who live with SpLDs are usually first and foremost visual learners, meaning that using pictures and models prove most effective in helping them understand and use maths.
When teaching children with SpLDs, it is incredibly important to be patient with them. Repeat points as many times as it necessary for them to fully understand, changing the approach each time to keep the student engaged.
Since SpLDs make organisation difficult, it can be invaluable for teachers and parents to put mechanisms in place to give structure to learning such as:
- A colour-coded system to differentiate between math concepts
- Sticking to a routine
- Using a learning diary alongside exercise books (to keep all work in one place)
There are plenty of other tricks you can use such as colours, progress charts, checklists and recaps of the math lessons before.
Good organisation can mean the difference between grades when it comes to children with SpLDs. With a routine and clear goals, the learner feels more in-control and the stress which causes mental blocks is removed.
Are Boys Better at Learning Maths than Girls?
Let's finish by discussing a rather sensitive subject: is there a difference between boys and girls when it comes to mathematics?
Some studies have revealed statistical tendencies:
- In France, of a class of 14-15 year olds, 82% of female students have a high level of French compared to just 68% of male pupils
- In maths, this figure is 87% for boys and 86.8% for girls
- Of 7 million students across 10 US states at the ages of 7, 10 and 18 years old, there was no difference in the performance between genders
So where does the myth that men are better at maths come from?
Maybe it's down to the preferences of the students. Perhaps girls tend to prefer subjects such as literature, nursing, and psychology, whereas there are more boys in maths, science and economics classes.
The explanation could equally be down to the pupil's upbringing and social practives. Very early on, boys may be encouraged to play construction games as girls are given dolls houses.
So even though seats in maths lecture halls are predominantly filled by men, this does not mean that they are more capable than women, but that women are less likely to choose to study scientific and mathematical subjects.
What will be the next major mathematical innovation? What new mathematical revelation will overturn our current conceptions of life as know it?
Superprof remains on standby, and will be the first to let you know! Find a tutor for maths revision GCSE.