How to Make Math Relevant for High School Students

Oct 6, 2022 | Dufferin Grove

As adults, it’s not that difficult to see the importance of math skills as we go through our daily lives. Even if we don’t work in a STEM (science, technology, engineering or math) career, we likely need to call upon a variety of math skills in both our personal and professional lives, whether we realize it or not.


For a child or teenager who has no plans of becoming an accountant, math teacher, or engineer it can be difficult to grasp the importance of math skills. Helping kids see the real-world applications of the math they’re learning can make all the difference when it comes to finding the desire and motivation to improve or excel in math.

Here are a few ways you can help make math more relevant for your child. 

Make It a Puzzle to Solve

  • Instead of showing a student or your child how to do a certain math exercise, make it a puzzle to figure out. Give kids a scenario that demonstrates a math concept and let kids discover the math themselves. 
  • If you can use a scenario that’s of special interest to the kids or one that’s timely, you’ll have an even better chance that they’ll make the connection to real life and be more engaged in learning.


Encourage Sharing and Peer Teaching

  • We can probably all recall a moment when somebody explained something we had heard explained multiple times before but never understood and it finally “clicked”.
  • Having students share how they understood a certain concept and explaining the process to their peers can help solidify the understanding within their own minds and might be the “aha” moment a student who is struggling needs to grasp a new concept.


Make Connections to Pop Culture, Nature, Social Justice and Current Events

  • We’ve seen some incredibly interesting and clever ways educators have connected math to the world around their students! For example, “algebra can track the probability of getting the next Wordle right in one try, geometry students may look to global cultures to see how transformations and symmetry exist in artwork around the world, and personal finance students may look into data about poverty and the unhoused population in their city.”1


Show Mistakes

  • Sometimes if a student sees real work with an error, they’ll begin to reflect differently on their own thought process. 
  • Give students a receipt with a mathematical error or present them with a problem where a target is missed by a projectile instead of asking them how far away the projectile will land. Flipping things on their head might be just what a student needs to start marking sense and begin to be able to model problems. 


Tie Math to More than Numbers

  • Any opportunity you get to show a student that math is more than just solving for a number and that it is about problem-solving skills, in general, will help build relevance. 
  • From choosing where to go to college, to developing a plan for a gap year abroad, to more simple things like which dish to choose at a restaurant–the same skills they’re building in math class will help them make life decisions.
  • Essentially, try to highlight the skills being learned versus only the content being covered.


It can be tough for teachers to help all of their students find a personal connection to the math their students are learning. And it can also be challenging as a parent or caregiver. If your child is struggling with math and you’re looking for support, book a free consultation and one free trial session with Mathnasium Dufferin Grove.