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5 ways to help your young teen with maths

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By Larry Martinek, co-founder and chief instructional officer of Mathnasium – The Maths Learning Centre

1. Ensure you child has ‘number sense’ – it’s the beginning of all maths ability.
Without this basic foundation, children can still learn to compute the answers to higher-level maths through tedious drills, but they won’t truly understand how maths works. Maths, more than any other academic subject, builds upon previous knowledge. A child who doesn’t have a true foundational understanding of maths will find it increasingly difficult as the years progress, creating a false sense of inability.

2. Encourage children to follow their passion – and show them how maths relates to it.
Maths is a method of describing everything in the universe. No matter what your child is interested in, from art to sports to zoology, there’s a maths connection! Just Google, ‘(subject) and maths,’ and you’ll find links that will help you show the relevance of maths to your child. An important corollary is not to let any negative experiences that you have had with maths influence your child’s education or opinion about maths.

3. Become your child’s advocate in school.
If your child is in a maths class that’s the wrong level for him, he will either be lost (struggling) or bored (unchallenged). Discuss your child’s feelings about maths class, then speak to the teacher or guidance counsellor if you feel that they’re not in the right place or need additional help outside class. Note that kids can enjoy a free assessment at Mathnasium in DB North Plaza.

4. Practice ‘walking down the street’ maths.
Once you look for it, maths is everywhere. Talk about maths in the context of real life. Let your child know that maths isn’t only about school grades; it’s important for life. For example, your child asks how long it will take to drive somewhere. Tell them your rate of speed and the distance of the destination. Then ask them to estimate how long you’ll be on the road.

5. Help your child develop a ‘sense of future.’
Children need to understand that, to get into university one day, they’ll need to take the GCE or SAT test, which assess both English and maths. No matter what they might be interested in studying, access to their desired universities will depend upon that test score. Even if university isn’t part of the conversation, show your child that maths is important for careers down the road – the majority of jobs require some level of maths competency. You’ll find a monthly feature, ‘Cool Careers Using Maths,’ on the Mathnasium blog to demonstrate this.

Mathnasium, 105B DB North Plaza, 2628 3362, mathnasium.com.hk

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