March Towards Math
March 14, 2011 ~
Math is all-encompassing, and its concepts can be found almost everywhere in the world we live in. Geometry encases us within the buildings in which we work and live. Nature is riddled with visual displays of geometric patterns, such as those found in snowflakes and seashells, which amaze and inspire us all. Yet when you utter the words “math” or, heaven forbid, “arithmetic,” many students and parents recoil as if struck by a sudden case of motion sickness.
The following is a collection of ideas about ways to explore math with your children so that they see the underlying depth and importance of mastering the subject while also understanding how it relates to their lives and interests. Remember, children are very intuitive and pick up on your behavior. If you’re a parent who struggled or struggles with math, be aware of how your reaction to math can influence your child’s viewpoint.
Math may seem complex at times, but it’s logical and requires practice. The more practice your child has with math, the better the results. Repetition is key, and the tips below will help make math an easy part of your child’s routine while also making it a rewarding experience that inspires him or her to master math’s complexity.
When practicing arithmetic, many children can become burdened by the execution of math and think only about the painstaking, number-crunching challenge it represents. If you observe these emotions in your child, consider relating math to his or her interests. Almost anything can relate to math, such as videogames, the patterns of clothes or even a favorite toy. All of these things and more were created using math. Point out that your child’s favorite skinny jeans were meticulously measured, scrutinized and cut and sewn using math and its measurements. Soon your child will be looking at the most common object, wondering how math relates to its creation or use.
Appeal to the Artist Inside
Many observations of children suggest that students who avoid or are disgruntled by math are those who would rather paint, draw or pursue creative arts than focus on exploring the art of numbers. Creativity can be a gateway to introducing math in a whole new fashion. Introduce your son or daughter to fractal art. Algorithms that replicate fractions of images in different spaces, sizes and wildly vivid colors create this modern art style. Fractions and algorithms are not easy concepts to grasp, but visual representations can highlight the basics in an entertaining and easily digestible manner. CoolMath.com explains the fundamentals and also has a gallery of amazing pieces of mathematic-based art.
Explore Math in Nature
Math exists in the natural world just as it exists in a textbook, and throughout history, it was the natural world that inspired many of the great mathematicians to explore nature’s mysteries. Math can easily be explored through nature and the geometric patterns that natural objects such as honeycombs or snowflakes contain. Even the stunning beauty of a broccoli and cauliflower hybrid is an example of fractal art – a treat for the eyes, and an edible treat too. All of these things offer unique vehicles to bring math patterns and shapes to life for your child. Oranges sliced in halves or quarters are a great way to explore pie chart fractions. Patterns are also found in plants such as the fern, which is made up of concentric shapes. Waking your child up to the math that abounds in his or her natural world is an invitation to explore the outdoors while also emphasizing many math concepts in an experiential way.
If your child has distaste for math, it may be possible that he or she simply has not seen it in relation to the world. Showing children the creative and practical applications of the subject may be all it takes to open their eyes to the many ways math is a part of everyday life. Appreciation of what one must learn is the first step to embracing it with enthusiasm.
In addition to appreciation, give your child the basic tools for success. Often a child dislikes math because it’s a subject that is difficult. A strong foundation in math fundamentals is critical for advancement to higher levels in school. Enrichment programs like Kumon build this foundation and understanding of math with practice. When a child achieves success, and starts to feel more confident in his or her math ability, the “math mood” is bound to transform at your home.
An enthusiastic learner will always excel beyond his or her imagined potential. Developing enthusiasm for learning, especially subjects that might not come naturally, is part of your child’s development. Be a math advocate, because a strong foundation in math is needed to be a successful and contributing member of society. Whether it is used in managing a career as a ballerina or sculptor or managing the household finances and retirement investments, math is here to stay.