Most people have a natural aptitude for either words or numbers – although there are rare beings who are equally good at both!
If your child struggles with numbers then they’ll be reluctant to tackle maths homework. That means that you’re going to be cast in the role of the wicked ogre as you insist they do that homework.
What can you do to help them get to grips with maths?
Encourage them to use maths every day:
- Take them shopping and see if they can work out the change when you pay small amounts – or, for smaller children, what coins they should be offering to pay for small items. This will help them with basic adding and subtraction – and also to ensure they are careful with their money.
- If they want something expensive get them to save up with their pocket money. Encourage them to put together a plan of how much they can save each week and how long it will take them to get to the total they need. You might also encourage them to think about how they could earn extra money (cleaning cars, mowing lawns, etc.) and how many jobs they would need to do to reduce the saving period – and by how much. You could even offer to ‘match fund’ their savings if they reach their target by a certain date.
- Get them measuring things. Will this table fit on that wall? How much space is there in the boot of the car – will that suitcase fit? How many metres of washing line will you need to restring the rotary drier? Learning to do basic calculations is a good basis for the more complicated stuff later.
- Ask them to calculate what time you’ll arrive at your destination if you’re travelling at an average of X miles an hour and it’s Y miles away (don’t let them use the satnav to tell them the answer).
You get the idea; we use numbers every day and if you don’t actually tell them they’re practising their maths skills they will be more likely to see it as just ‘helping Mum’ (or Dad) or a means to an end to achieve something they want.
Kids love is computer games. Get them doing tricks with numbers there are some great websites to send them to – here’s a couple to get them started.
Learning clever tricks is just another way to get them to feel comfortable with numbers (and will develop their mental arithmetic skills).