Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Pointers to help children understand math concepts

Math could be made an interesting subject by you if you have enough ingenuity and initiative to search new venues of instruction. The concept of Math is all around you if you only open your eyes to them: the children crossing the street, the toys lined up on the display counter, and the solitary plane winging its way through the sky. These are all examples of math in everyday life.

You should keep in mind that children are insouciant, curious and ever adventurous so you should capitalize on these positive traits to let them learn well in math.
There are some ground rules that you should institute when teaching math to children.
1. You should listen to the verbal and non-verbal clues that the children are sending to you. Observe there reactions. If you see that they are losing interest, then vary the activity every 15 minutes.

Children have very short attention span.

2. You should be open to accept any of the children's contribution to the topic being discussed. It might surprise you to discover that you could also learn some significant lessons in life from them.

3. Establish a positive environment. You should be an optimist and believe in their ability to achieve their goals. Reward them for a job well done and encourage them when they are lagging behind. A good mentor knows that in each child is an undiscovered talent. Persistence and patience is the key. Don't give up on a seemingly "slow" child. Each child has his own pace of learning. There are no dumb children, only uncreative teachers."

4. Teach them to believe in themselves by reaffirming them for every positive thing they do; be it related to math or not. Research have proven that children who had high self-esteem, performed well in any undertaking. Let the child learn that the only impediment to his success is the limit that he puts himself to.
Having set the ground rules we now go to the significant tips that you could use in teaching Math:

1. Teach them how to count by making use of materials that they see everyday; something tangible that they can hold and play with, like building blocks, apples, sticks, etc. Look around you, there are numerous attractive materials that could catch the attention of children.

2. Show them how to add by using the specific material itself. Like when you want them to solve problems concerning money, then make use of real money.
i.e., give him 25 cents, and then another 25 cents, and ask the question. "If I have given you two 25 cents, how much do you have in your hand?

3. Play interpolation games. Games are good motivators for children. Children are playful in nature so you must maximize its use.
Group them into 2-3 groups and conduct a contest. Let them analyze the given numbers. e.g. 1 2 4 7 .. or supply missing numbers; e.g. 1 + ___ = 3.

This is not merely written on the board but on big colorful boxes where inside is a small gift waiting, if they are able to answer the question correctly.

4. Enhance their creative minds with a "Number Story".
Let them pick a number and write a short story about the number they have picked. Recounting the story in class would also develop their public speaking skills.
The famous Mathematician Gauss made used of his creativity to discover various short cut methods to solve problems.

Who knows, you might discover the next Gauss.

5. Make use of interactive material if you need to expound on a difficult
This maybe a computer aided instruction or a manually prepared visual aid. Having power point presentations could also help a lot.

6. Attempt to always use audio-visual aids in your lessons.
Children remember more when they see and hear it simultaneously. i.e.
Show them the number written on a card, let them go to the board and write it, then let them read it out loud.

Repetition helps in retention.

7. Go outdoors and teach math using nature.
Find a plant and let them count the petals of the flower, the number of branches and twigs, etc. In this exercise, they get to breath fresh air, get a little exercise, and learn about nature and about Math.

8. Give them "Case studies" to work on. We often hear the term "case studies" used in higher forms of education. This could be applicable too for children to develop their analytical minds.

Form small groups of 5- 7 children. Present to each group a simple Math problem. Let them interact with each other to discuss the correct answer. You must have a series of leading questions accompanying the problem to lead to the correct answer.
There are still numerous activities that you could devise if you try to be creative and not confine yourself to traditional methods.

Use your imagination so that children will realize that learning Math could be fun.

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