Making Math more Meaningful for Kids

Making Math Meaningful for Kids - Playing Hopscotch

‘Boring’ Math has been a ‘problem area’ for generations to school children

Dear Math, please grow up and solve your own problems, I’m tired of solving them for you” used to be Rahul’s heartfelt prayer as he completed Primary school. In fact, it’s a refrain often heard in thousands of homes with school going children. Why is it so? Is it a fair prayer? If indeed Math was a living thing, it would complain of being painted as a villain all the time! Absolutely not fair, for a very logical and easy to manage subject, in our view 🙂

Rahul’s mom understood that one of the key reasons Math is vilified is the ‘conventional’ approach to Math education – the combination of emphasis on formula based teaching, strict adherence to theoretical learning, pressure oriented problem solving and (added to this dangerous mix!) the time pressure. This type of pedagogy may have served a purpose in the past. However, Rahul could not relate to Math as ‘fun’ or directly relevant to his life. Similar to Rahul’s case, Math ends up alienating a wide section of school going children. Such children do not ‘connect’ with Math and tune out at the very mention of Math. They start treating it as ‘one other subject’ with tests and exams that need to be studied for. Consequently, many children remain indifferent to the wonders of Math, as they are unable to relate to the beauty of the subject, beyond lame formulae that need to memorised.

So Rahul’s mom wondered – can Math gain its rightful place as a fun filled and importantly, useful subject for kids? Can Rahul be made aware of its relevance? She quickly realised that there are a number of ways to bridge the gap between kids and Math. She adopted an effective approach to transform Rahul’s mindset towards Math.

Firstly, she highlighted the relevance of Math to Rahul’s everyday life

Making Math More Meaningful - Checking Time on Wrist Watch

It dawned on her that it was critical that Rahul understood the relevance of Math to his life – present and future. She decided to highlight the applications of Math in Rahul’s daily life. Her  discussions with Rahul started highlighting the role of Math in simple everyday things –

How much more time before his cartoon show (involving subtraction and time concepts)?

Why is Chapati round all the time (bringing in the concept of shapes)?

How much should Rohit Sharma score in this match to make his series average 100 (addition and averages related)?

What happens when you mix Red and Green watercolors in the same tub (colors and associated)?

With this approach, Rahul’s mom was able to help Rahul ‘relate’ to the math concepts and not just see them as a series of formulae to clear exams.

Then she showed Math isn’t only about ‘problems’ – There’s lots of fun too!

Making Math Meaningful - Monopoly Game

Once Rahul was able to relate to the relevance of Math to his life, he got a booster tonic to grow his interest in Math – thanks to engrossing games. For instance, Rahul strongly enhanced his addition and subtraction abilities (while also gaining a background to the financial world) by playing many rounds of the game ‘Monopoly’ (also called as ‘Business’) with his cousins. He could figure out (now, almost by instinct) the number of ways to pay rupee amounts with the coins and notes he had. Similarly, his mom realised that jigsaw puzzles based on calculations, the timeless Sudoku and the proven Rubik’s Cube all turned out to be lots of fun to Rahul, while also developing his Math and logical reasoning skills.      

The icing on the cake – Tech options to weave the Math magic

Rahul’s mom saw amazing possibilities for Rahul’s learning with the combination of high speed internet and the desktop at home. She understood that it is now possible and practical to literally pick and choose the ‘right’ approach for Rahul. She started by assessing his (now improved) ability and interest level and accordingly put together the most effective plan for him. For instance, she felt a combination of games-oriented approach to enhance problem solving and videos oriented theoretical background sessions as best suited for Rahul’s pace and interest level.

In a nutshell, holistic approach to Math learning is essential and can reap rich rewards

Math helps improve the analytical ability of children and is quite vital for their well-rounded development into capable citizens in the society. Let’s help bridge the gap in our own ways and make Math more meaningful, for our next gen. What is needed is a holistic approach to Math learning and we at beGalileo, are very happy to be part of this exciting journey for kids. You can check out our options here.         

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