I never could figure out how a rubix cube works. Apparently, Justin Bieber is good at it (I just saw a video of him solving a rubix cube puzzle. Problem solving in Math (like solving a rubix cube puzzle) is a necessary skill we all need every day. Apart from rubix cubes, there are tons of mathematical problems we encounter on a daily basis.
Unfortunately, most kids hate math, and most adults, too. Mathematics and I never had a great relationship until I was 26 years old. When I was younger, I hated Math. Later in life, I realized that I needed it.
From horror teachers to bad test scores, Mathematics has somewhat become a measurement of intelligence. Let’s admit it. When someone says they’re good in Math, we automatically think that he/she is a smart! This perception by many may have caused to lower some kids’ self-esteem, which they may have brought into their adulthood.
Early on, I want to teach Zeeka that Mathematics and problem-solving is fun! In order to do that, I went on to look for common reasons why people dislike Math. Here are the things that I found.
Solving problems can be frustrating for them.
Schools follow a curriculum that doesn’t follow everyone’s timeline. This means teachers teach Mathematics, give tests and reviews, and grade students according to their lesson plan schedule and not according to the kid’s current skills.
Every kid has a different speed and level of understanding. Most kids today have minimal mastery of arithmetics, especially multiplication and division. So it’s expected that they will also have a hard time when they reach higher levels of mathematics.
This lack of mastery can be frustrating. And so, they end up disliking the subject all the more.
Incomplete and incompetent instructions
Sometimes the challenge also lies in the way Mathematics is instructed to students. Most Math teachers also have a stigma that doesn’t help much.
The traditional way of teaching Maths is through blackboard and chalk, with teachers scribbling formulas on the board. I remember staring on the board trying to understand the equations only to find out I needed to copy it before it was erased. And it sucked not having the time to really get to understand what was being discussed.
There are also times when teachers don’t give full instructions. Some even expect students to know how to do the equation based on what the books say. This expectation can cause some kids to struggle.
The subject causes personal anxiety and embarrassment to some students
Most kids dread being called in front of the class to solve equations on the board. It’s embarrassing and nerve-wracking for some, especially when you don’t get the answer right.
And most of the time, the teachers are not as encouraging either. Most teachers get easily frustrated when kids don’t get the answer right away. This results in more anxiety for the students and creates a negative impact on the subject.
Students rarely see the value of Mathematics in their daily lives
For students, Mathematics only represent numbers and symbols. What they fail to realize and what we often forget to tell them is that Math is present in our daily lives.
The patience and the mental requirements needed in Mathematics make them better problem solvers and also increases their critical thinking skills. It helps them process real-life situations and challenges pragmatically and objectively.
Attitudes in Math greatly depend on how kids experience it for the first time, so I make sure Zeeka gets to maximize hers.
So here are some tips on how to make Math enjoyable for kids.
- Play puzzles and games
The best way for kids to enjoy Math is through play.
Puzzles are a good way to exercise a child’s logic. It introduces them to shapes, sizes, and correlation. It also helps kids improve their fine and gross motor skills and spatial abilities.
Make it fun by playing counting games or putting numbers on puzzles to help them learn about sequences and one-on-one counting.
You can check out this website for cool Math puzzles and games ideas to try with your little one.
- Never say you weren’t good in Math
Remember how mindset plays a strong role in how your kids will respond to Math. So don’t let them hear you say that you’re not good at it or if you dislike the subject.
It’s important to make them feel at ease when they’re solving problems. And it’s also vital for them to give it a try first and acquire a “never give up” attitude.
Also, be careful with how you talk about correcting mistakes.
The key to kids enjoying Math is to let them realize that they can have a do-over. Kids need to know that mistakes are normal and they can always correct them. Make sure to choose the words you use when giving instructions about corrections and always be patient.
- Show them how to apply it in real life
Kids need to understand that Math is an inevitable part of life. And the best way to do it is to show them how it applies to everyday things.
One of the best ways to show the value of Mathematics is by cooking or baking.
The actual process of baking can help kids understand the need to follow a step-by-step guide to get the desired outcome. Adding an ingredient too much, too little, or too soon can affect the end result.
Check out our baking session at Nobu Hotel! Zeeka and I definitely had fun while we had our cooking class.
Make it fun for them, especially for young kids. Count the cups and spoons you use or ask them to read out the recipe to you aloud. Teach them about halves and wholes while cutting. The best part of it is you get to have your cake and eat it too.
- Enroll them in Math enrichment centers
Math enrichment centers can help kids enjoy the subject with the help of the right level and well-trained supervision. Children get to experience Mathematics to the fullest because they learn it according to their own pace. Teachers are also expertly trained to assess and recommend the right levels that will enhance their skills.
One of the best ways to experience Math is through Seriously Addictive Mathematics or SAM Singapore Math. I wrote about it here: https://mommyginger.com/seriously-addictive-mathematics-or-sam-singapore-math-what-you-need-to-know.html
SAM Singapore Math makes it fun and easy for kids to learn Math.
Students get to learn Mathematics through play, using toys, tools, and manipulatives. This makes it easy for students, especially the younger ones, to understand mathematical concepts. With this approach, no memorization in Math is needed. Students learn through discussions with trained and certified teachers and also improves their conceptual understanding skills through play. Unlike traditional math lessons from school, S.A.M. Singapore Math helps kids learn math through logic and understanding the ‘why’s’ before doing the ‘how’s’.
Problem solving in Math need not be difficult for kids. But with the right tools, certified trainers, and motivation, Math enrichment programs like S.A.M. Singapore Math can definitely be a good investment.
Do you have any tips on how problem solving in Math fun for kids? Share them with us below.