By Michał Borkowski
Ask a group of children what their most dreaded subjects are, and a majority of them will immediately respond with either math or science. These are two of the least favourite subjects for many, and for all the seemingly right reasons. The rigidity of the formal education system tends to suppress the natural curiosity that children have in them by prioritising memorisation of concepts over actual understanding. This is a grave problem in today’s landscape wherein digital advancements are reigning over the world and progressing each minute, thus resulting in a need-gap for professionals in these domains.
Learning to love math and science is essential to spark the imagination and creativity needed to approach problems with ease and logic, which is a necessary skill in one’s professional as well as personal life. Keeping this in mind, here are some practices that you can adopt to make learning math and science easy for your children:
Encourage brainstorming with peers
The best thing that one can possibly do with their curiosity is to share it with like-minded people. The healthy effects of peer-to-peer or collaborative learning has been corroborated in several researches, regardless of whether it is being approached digitally or in real life. Basically, being amid peers encourages proactive participation as children hustle together towards a common goal of solving a certain problem, thus taking passive learning away. It also helps one determine their strengths and weaknesses in a setting where peers are considerate of these, thereby taking the burden of embarrassment away. This approach to learning can thus engage and involve students more in the learning process, making math and science all the more interactive and easier. Further, this approach to learning helps in the development of necessary soft skills as well such as teamwork, clarity in communication, adaption to different learning styles and behaviours, respect for diversity and inclusivity, and other such social skills that one needs for holistic individual learning experience.
Make the content engaging
One of the biggest woes when it comes to these subjects is the fact that the learning material has hardly been engaging. For children who get mesmerised even by the tiniest of wonders, subjects as marvellous as math and science seem mundane because of the way they are approached in formal academic curriculum. While schools have taken rapid strides in furthering attractive content, they are yet to devote enough resources needed for true facilitation of and retention for these critical subjects. Digital channels have been a boon in this respect, with video-based content and gamification of the problems in these subjects (or those relevant to them). Even apart from the virtual world, there are many interactive toys and DIY crafts that have also emerged in the scenario, enabling deeper learning of maths, science, technology, and even art in an engaging setting that does not feel overwhelming. In fact, even a fun day-out visiting zoos, aquariums, botanical gardens, planetarium, and other such edutainment places can prove to be a great booster for these lessons!
Give a real-life or literature-driven context
Incorporating lessons from these supposedly ‘boring’ subjects in real life can certainly make the concepts, and their learning, all the more interesting for children. Kids are inherently inquisitive about whatever they come across, and having such impromptu conversations that hint at lessons from the subjects can be a great exercise not just to ignite interest but to also make them realize the actual value of these subjects. For instance, when you take your child with you for grocery shopping, ask them to help you compute the final price to be paid, how much change you will get back after giving a certain denomination, etc. Bake with your child and show them how science is involved even in such fun activities. Children’s literature can also be leveraged to enhance learning in maths and science, as these help provide a more relevant and meaningful context, thus increasing levels of interest along with nurturing critical thinking among children.
Provide a conducive learning environment
However resourceful the learning process may be, nothing concrete can be achieved if you do not provide children with an engaging and supportive environment. For instance, a kid may come up with a very basic question that may seem silly to you, but pointing that out or laughing it off on their face will demotivate them from seeking help later on. Further, comparing their abilities or performance with their peers may also discourage and develop a sense of jealousy in them. Most importantly, whenever your child seems to be truly curious about something, slow down to their pace and hear them out instead of talking over them. They might not get a concept right initially, but it is better to let them learn from their own mistakes and through their own perception rather than having someone else’s perspective to a scenario being shoved down their throats.
Essentially, education has to be approached in a healthy, engaging, and fun manner for children, and they need to genuinely love the learning experience in order to attain actual understanding of the subject matter. Once your kid begins loving the learning process wholeheartedly, there will be no more reluctance towards or inhibitions regarding maths and science, and who knows, these might end up becoming their favourite subjects!
(The writer is co-founder and CEO of Brainly.)