Though STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields collectively produce some of the world’s most exciting and impactful innovations, children (and parents) who are apprehensive about these subjects do not always share this same excitement.
For math specifically, it’s estimated that 93% of Americans experience a certain level of anxiety when it comes to the subject. Under these conditions, even though a child might grasp the concepts being tested, their unease can inhibit their abilities.
Making Math Fun and Relatable
If your child has math anxiety, their math homework is probably a regular source of negativity. To address these negative feelings and help them find fun and fulfillment in math, it’s important to encourage their comfort and confidence outside of academic parameters.
- Be playful with math
By getting playful with math, you can make it a more natural part of your family’s everyday life. Have fun with bubble play and explore concepts like addition by blowing new bubbles and subtraction by popping them. Additionally, look for fractals in nature (e.g., pinecones and sunflowers), and try taking on strategy games and puzzles (e.g., tangrams) together in low-stakes ways.
- Explore real-world connections
Pointing out interesting math concepts throughout the day can help your child reframe their feelings toward the subject. Exploring fractions in the kitchen is a fun and easy way to make math relatable. For example, you can ask your child to select one of their favorite pastries and help them make two versions: one that uses the correct proportions of ingredients and another where the amounts are randomized. It will take one bite for your child to taste the difference and realize the relevance of numbers.
- Get hands-on with manipulatives
Whether you choose items you can snack on when finished, or things like blocks, shells or upcycled materials, using manipulatives is another effective way to help children visualize math concepts like addition and subtraction. Investing in tools like chalkboards or whiteboards can also help engage your child in moving beyond their paper to work through some of the challenges they might be having in active, hands-on ways.
Share Your Ideas
Do you have any favorite ways to help your child feel more comfortable with their math homework? We would love to hear from you on our Facebook page!
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