6 Math Activities for Kids Who Fear Math
Does your child hate math, or refuse to do math homework and dread math classes at school? Mastering basic math concepts is an essential skill. Whether they’re learning how to count, add,, or multiply fractions, kids need the foundational skills of mathematics in order to succeed in life. Math can be intimidating for many kids, but it doesn't have to be! The good news is that there are ways that parents can help their children learn and even love mathematics. Below are six activities you can use to help children get excited about math and overcome their math anxiety.
1. Go beyond flashcards
Flashcards can be an excellent way to introduce new math concepts and review topics, but oftentimes they’re not sufficient when it comes to helping children become confident about their skills and truly understand mathematical concepts. Many kids need more than just your traditional flashcard games to help them overcome their fear of math and develop a deep understanding of numbers. And so do parents. You can use these cards as inspiration, or you can come up with activities based on the flashcards on your own. Consider changing the goal or using manipulatives, like play dough or counters. If you are working on counting, have your child place flashcards in order from lowest to highest, instead of randomizing the cards when you practice counting.
2. Make math hands-on
Learning math can be fun if you turn lessons into a game or activity. Use what you know about your child's interests, and choose activities that fit their particular hobbies and lifestyle! It can help if you use themes for each subject. For example, when practicing geometry, create shapes out of playdough, and connect them together like building blocks. You can also make geometric designs on paper plates with markers or stickers. Try creating number-related patterns by laying out M&M's in different configurations around the house (for example: two M&Ms in front of the TV, six M&Ms behind the couch.) Instead of just counting M&M's, have children move them around into different positions, which will allow them to practice identifying and working with fractions.
3. Connect math to reading and writing
Most parents already do this in some capacity, but it's helpful to remember that there are many connections between math and other subjects. When your child is learning about decimals, incorporate books that use the decimal system to tell a story, or look at pictures from around the world where other currencies use different exchange rates for money. Not only does this help strengthen children’s reading skills, but it also enables them to see how math plays a role in everyday life.
4. Use storytelling techniques
Sometimes, parents don’t realize that kids need extra help with math word problems because they are often very abstract. They may need assistance understanding what the question is asking before they can find the answer. One of the best ways to do this is by turning word problems into stories and having your child act it out, or use puppets to portray different characters and scenarios. You can also have characters say different parts, or write out the problem as a poem instead of a sentence.
5. Do math problems together
Another great way to make math fun is by doing it together with your child. Chess is a great game for math strategy. It doesn't matter if you know how to play chess or not. Choose that, or another one of their favorite games (like Minecraft) and incorporate math skills while you play together. There are many apps that use games as learning tools for mathematics, and you can also find free games online. The important thing is to make learning fun, and remind your child that you are always available to help if needed.
6. Look at the bigger picture
Since math is everywhere, try to find examples of math in the real world. You can do this through books, television, or movies. Learning about mathematical concepts will help your child understand how these skills are applied in the future. It will also give them a better understanding of how math can be used outside of school. Invite children to help you measure ingredients when making cookies, or use the opportunity to learn about geometry while watching Spongebob Squarepants!
Math anxiety is common for many kids. But, you can ease their tension with these activities and make the inevitable approach of tackling numbers a whole lot less daunting.
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