Headteacher of Mui Wo OWLS school Will Tong reveals how to make maths fun!
“I hate maths.”
“Maths is hard.”
“Maths is boring.”
Most children innately like numbers. In fact, you’ll seldom hear kids speaking
negatively about maths until they start going to school. Here are some practical suggestions to help young students change their mindset.
Encourage kids to memorise a few key maths facts. This will provide the building blocks for them to fall in love with maths.
For instance, memorising the times tables is a good investment. It saves time later when kids begin to learn addition, subtraction, multi-digit multiplication, division, fractions and decimals. Knowing key maths facts allows more room for higher order thinking, like processing maths inquiries and word problems.
Find the missing building blocks of children’s maths learning – this is not easy, but it’s worth doing.
If your child is struggling with fraction subtraction, the problem may stem from simple subtraction, subtraction of the same denominator, or subtraction of a different denominator. Breaking down a question into small units and helping kids to master that unit is key. Having a clear framework helps children to understand what particular practice they need.
Introduce personalised deliberate practice. Psychologist K. Anders Ericsson writes that it is the method of practice that is essential, not the number of hours spent practising. With this in mind, the goal of daily maths practice should not be subject knowledge, but the learning method.
Say children are working on the seven times table… We can provide different tools and methods for them to choose from, for instance songs, worksheets, computer games, cards, or tiles. We can ask the kids which method they feel more comfortable with. Which is more fun? Which would help them learn better? This method may also be applicable to other subjects. With the right habits of mind, children will turn into reflective thinkers who will continuously improve their learning methods.
Help children to feel connected to what they are learning through STEM education. Example 1: Many students don’t know why they have to learn the four operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division). By creating a simple equation, making use of the four operations in coding with robotics, they can apply their learning in a practical way. They can, for instance, create a simulation of the parking system of a car.
Example 2: Many students don’t know why they need to learn geometry. By creating a simple shooting game with coding, students will understand how to make use of coordinates and angles to make an interesting game.
In the past three years, I have created over a hundred S.T.E.M. projects with my students. The most amazing result has been students starting to understand why they need to learn maths. They understand the meaning. Thus, they become more motivated to learn maths.
You’ll know that you’re on the right track if you start hearing the following statements more often:
“I love maths.”
“Maths is so fun.”
“I like maths challenges.”
Mui Wo OWLS School, 1A Silver Centre Building,
10 Mui Wo Ferry Pier Road, Mui Wo, 2984 0006,
[email protected], www.mwos.edu.hk
Tags: maths, mui wo OWLS school