By Venkata Vinay
Vishal, who is a sincere student in Grade 3, would sit uninterested in his Maths classes and consistently performed low. When asked, his father said that he was not good at Maths himself, and hence he was unable to help Vishal.
All parents want to help their child succeed at Maths but are bogged down by their personal biases. If you are one of them, don’t be disheartened as you are not alone. Let us understand three key myths surrounding how parents feel about helping their child learn the subject.
Myth 1: I wasn’t good at Maths. So my child will never be great at Maths
Many parents believe that Maths abilities are transferred from parents to their children. They believe if a parent was good at the subject, then the child would definitely turn out good at it as well. We know from research that Math skills are not genetically transferred. It is a skill. And like any skill, it can be improved by focusing on the basics, sufficient practice and a willingness to learn from mistakes. Even if you feel you are not good at Maths, encourage your child to reach out to the teacher or a family friend.
Myth 2: Maths is all about formulae and calculations. It is difficult to evoke interest for it
There are many applications of Maths in our everyday lives. This could be during expense budgeting, shopping, driving, cooking, watching sports and other activities.
For example, when we go grocery shopping, we could ask our child to calculate the cost of items we pick and give us a warning when we exceed a certain amount, say Rs 500. While in the kitchen, we could ask our child to measure out the ingredients for a chosen recipe.
The educationist Anitha Rampal shared that children will improve their mathematics skills if they could “match a concrete context with the abstract notion of a number.” The more that children see and use Maths in everyday activities, the more they will find it to be an interesting subject, and grow to love it.
Myth 3: With the new-age Olympiads, I am unsure of how to help my child
Teachers today are aware that students should have more opportunities to apply the concepts they have learnt. Hence there is a lot more diverse variety of Maths problems. But parents should know that the fundamentals of problem-solving especially at the primary grades still remain the same. It is important to read the problem carefully, understand the given information, identify what is asked for and then choose the relevant operation to solve the problem. Parents should continually reinforce these problem solving techniques with their children.
In a nutshell, even if as adults we are not good at math, we can still help our child go a long way in learning Maths. If we are able to uncover our own biases against learning Maths, we will find that there are myriad ways to enable children fall in love with the subject.
(The writer is academic Lead at IMAX Program by ClassKlap, Bengaluru.)