“I hate math!”

When my daughter blurted these words out in Grade 2, I cringed. I mean, how can you succeed without math? Panic was churning in the pit of my gut. How could I fix this? And why wasn’t her teacher making her love math? Through experience with two kids that were avid math haters, I learned how to redirect their opinion of math. Classroom delivery of math concepts wasn’t cutting it. Why? Here are some of the pitfalls of classroom math from a student’s point of view.

  1. Peer Pressure
    Remember sitting in a classroom when a lesson was up on the board? The teacher likely called on a student to answer a question or invited the class to answer in unison. The majority of the students around you chimed the solution to the blank on the board. Maybe you were part of the few that didn’t understand the problem. Most kids experience this moment at some point in their academic growth. It can be debilitating if it’s a constant. A feeling of “I don’t get this,” can spiral even a smart child into self-doubt. And worse, can de-evolve into an “I hate math,” pattern. Or you support an alternative math environment at home to gently coax their confidence back up again.
  2. One size fits
    I can’t blame the teacher. The curriculum is what it is. It is often restrictive and rarely mindful of the umpteen learning styles that are filling the seats in any given classroom. Yes, we know our schools aren’t perfect but it isn’t due to a lack of hard-working teachers. You truly are your child’s greatest advocate. The importance of upping the game at home is truly the best thing you can do for your child. How? Here’s a sampling of ideas straight from the pages of Brainspace that are sure to inspire the most reluctant mathematician.

5 Mash-ups to encourage a love of math

1. BAKING FRACTIONS

A measuring cup and spoon is an excellent demonstration of fractions. Use this recipe for Dog Cookies or learn French and fractions with the easy candy cane bark recipe

monster dough
the science of yeast

2. SEE THE PATTERNS

Fibonacci sequence, Pascale’s Triangle are enjoyed by mathematicians for a reason. They’re playful. See our Fibonacci hopscotch pattern for fun with chalk outdoors or on a cement floor. Then look at pineapples, artichokes and tree branches to see if you can find the pattern in nature.

Finding the solutions to Pascal’s Triangle is as satisfying as it gets for budding young mathematicians. It can be simple or challenging. Everyone can succeed at their pace.

3. MATHEMAGIC

Finding the magic in math is a great way to get young performers interested. Here’s a link to a few tricks we’ve published in Brainspace. Below is an all-time favourite. More like these are easy to find online. Give it a try:

Step 1
Take the first digit (3) and multiply it by the next highest number (4):
3 x 4 = 12

Step 2
Take the second digit (5) and multiply it by itself—in other words, square it: 5 x 5 = 25.

Step 3
Now take the answer from Step 1 (12) and “attach” the answer from Step 2 (25) to get the final answer: 1,225.

Try it yourself with the number 65. Did you get 4,225?

Now try 45 squared. Check your answer using a calculator.

4. ROMAN CODE

Sometimes, the secrecy of coding is appealing to problem solvers. When I was teaching, I discovered that the children who avoided math were quite intrigued by these problems.

decoding for greater math fun

 

5. MATH ART WITH GEOMETRIC MULTIPLICATION

This one is time-consuming and perfect for kids who love to colour. Graph paper, colouring pencils and a ruler. We suggest you allow the use of a calculator. It is about seeing patterns and less about calculations. Besides, they’ll eventually challenge themselves and attempt it without a calculator once they get the hang of it. Here’s a video link to demonstrate the activity below.

math, art, geometry, multiplication
Math Mash-ups