Engaging Activities That Raise Student Interest In Mathematics
“ I do not like math. “ I find it too difficult”. “ It is my least favourite subject”
Odds are that you have heard your children voice their frustration several times. It is commonly said that there are two kinds of people in the world; those who enjoy mathematics and the balance 98% of the population. While we tend to think that children are either mathematically inclined or not, the fact is that it has a lot to do with how math is taught. Making math relevant as well as raising student interest in mathematics can go a long way in dis-positioning it as that dreaded subject that requires tremendous effort. In fact, this is perhaps the only subject that finds application in all walks of life, from laying the table to buying that much-awaited toy.
As parents & educators, all that we need to do is to help children see math as a subject that is interesting and fun as opposed to one that comes with the drudgery of following some stringent rules & involves solving complicated sums in exercise books. In fact, the scientist Josiah Willard Gibbs called mathematics ‘a language’. It is about time this language became a common language of communication for kids. Here are 7 handy tips to raise student interest in mathematics
1. Creating that shopping list
Now, who doesn’t like to create a shopping list of objects that one wants? The next time you are taking your child to the mall to buy him or her favorite things, ensure you get them to create a list replete with what it is going to cost. Similarly, a trip to the grocery store is yet another opportunity to discuss the options available and the various price points they come at. How your budget will be impacted if you substituted one product for another, for example, will make the child see how mathematics is a real-world concept as opposed to one relegated to the textbooks. Similarly discussing various options such as how a certain 1 kg packaging costs Rs 500 & a two kg one costs 950, is a good exercise in mathematics & prudence!
2. Use sports to spark student interest in mathematics
If you have a sports aficionado at home, you have the perfect opportunity to raise student interest in mathematics. Batting averages, and the number of runs required for a team to win, are all fun lessons in math. The odds of a team winning the toss, in fact, is the child’s early lesson in probability. Similarly, you can teach percentages based on how a player has contributed to the team’s performance. You can also teach units of measurement through sports like running or swimming where people win or lose basis fraction of a second.
Travel tends to sit high on most children’s lists. Use this opportunity to help them understand concepts like speed, distance & time. Getting the child to note the vehicle speed on the speedometer and calculate the time traveled, will give them an approximate idea of the distance covered.
4. Board Games
A whole lot of math board games can come in handy to teach concepts. You could play Math Bingo or even use a tic-tac-toe board and fill it with facts related to math. Other than raising student interest in mathematics, board games will also teach them a whole lot of life skills including waiting for their turn, collaboration & more.
Besides board games, for children who are fond of technology, there are also a number of online math games. Now that is one screen time that you may actually want to give access to.
5. Have Children create their own problems
As opposed to asking children to solve mathematical problems, it works very well for creative thinking, if you ask children to come up with mathematical problems related to a certain concept. Take, for example, 4 girls & 6 boys standing in a line. You will be surprised to see how many mathematical questions children can pose beyond just finding out the total number of students. These could be related to forming a certain pattern, for example, that no child should be surrounded by children of the same gender.
6. Math Art Projects
For students who are artistically inclined, it works well to give them math art projects as opposed to pushing mathematics onto them when they would rather be spending their time drawing. Seeing their favorite subject as a part of the activity will take away apprehensions related to mathematics if any. In fact, such activities are a good coming together of the left & right brain. From exploring symmetry to turning number sequences into art, to exploring math art with shapes, there are enough & more options.
7. Use coachable moments
There can actually be a wide variety of coachable moments when it comes to teaching math concepts. While waiting for a pizza to arrive, talking about pizza slices can lead you to a discussion on fractions. Similarly, if you are traveling by car and need to refuel, a discussion on the volume of the fuel tank, average mileage, and more can come in handy.
The key here is to take your child’s interests into account. So if your child is into fashion, talk about the costs of material, if he or she is intrigued by vehicles, speak of their engine capacity & more. Similarly, you could incorporate math activities in the garden. Right from measuring plants to equations based on each type of flower you have in the garden, there are enough & more opportunities. Incorporating their interests in to real-world problems will make them see math as an integral part of their lives.
At Pragyanam School, our activity-oriented pedagogy goes a long way in unlocking the child’s love for math. In addition, with our overall approach being one of ensuring that the children have the requisite life skills that can help them navigate life with ease, inculcating the love for math finds a strong fit. The overall focus is for them to learn math surely, but importantly to fill them with confidence so that they are open to learning & do not view a certain subject with dread! When Pragyanam is adjudged as one of the best schools in Gurgaon, it is on account of this overall approach that children are born with limitless potential & it is up to us adults to nurture it.