Learning to Love Math

Jan 18, 2017 | Markham

Fact: A positive, can-do attitude and a healthy enthusiasm for learning are critical for academic success. Sadly, it’s not rare to hear many a frustrated student lament, “I hate math!”

Many times, there’s a disconnect between a student’s classroom experiences with math and the full breadth of the subject’s real-world applications. Combine that with prolonged struggles and you’ll often end up with a discouraged, frustrated child. Fortunately, parents can play an active role in changing their child’s attitude. Here are some tips:

  • Show young learners how math enhances their everyday lives: Highlight math’s relevance in your child’s world by enlisting their aid with household activities that involve math (for instance, cooking/baking, grocery shopping, and budgeting their allowance). They’ll get to experience and practice math in down-to-earth situations and will start to appreciate its value.
  • Merge math learning and family fun: Play math-related games with your child. Develop their spatial recognition and geometry skills—along with their ability to visualize and use units of measurement—through creative craft activities and puzzles like tangrams. Plan a trip to a science museum (preferably one with lots of hands-on activities for kids) and show your child all the awesome inventions and discoveries made possible by math.      
  • Explore math through art and nature: Math is beautiful! M. C. Escher’s use of tilings and tessellations is a prime example of how math can inspire art. Go on an “art walk” around town with your child, pick out your favorite structures, and talk about what makes them attractive—concepts such as symmetry can come into play when determining an object’s aesthetic value. Additionally, patterns following the Fibonacci sequence can be found throughout nature—it’s in pinecones and flowers … and even in Romanesco broccoli!
  • Expand learning through supplementary education: Breathe fresh life into your child’s math education and help them catch up by exposing your child to structured math learning environments that fall outside the classroom norm. Find an effective supplementary math program with a strong emphasis on strengthening foundational knowledge and producing measurable results that provides lots of encouragement and specializes in making math fun.
  • Model a positive math mindset: Studies have shown that adults can inadvertently pass their own math anxiety on to the children in their lives. Exercise mindfulness when talking about math with your child and make a strong effort to speak of the subject in a positive and encouraging light.

It’s important to realize that kids don’t actually hate math. What they hate are the feelings of frustration and embarrassment that come with years of math struggles. With that in mind, as you engage your child with these activities, keep the mood fun, easy, and low pressure. The idea is to inspire curiosity, appreciation, and, eventually, a love for the subject. While math may not become your child’s favorite subject overnight, repeated positive interactions with math can prove exceptionally transformative in the long term and can lead to huge strides in the classroom.