You may feel pressured to make sure your kids do well in maths. Your kids, in turn, may feel pressured (by you, their teachers, or classmates) to become good at maths, too. If you’re going to help your kid become good at maths, how do you do it?
For one thing, your attitude towards maths is an important factor. There are studies that suggest dads who hate maths are more likely to have kids who feel similarly hostile toward fractions. Some kids tend to dive into equations when their parents solve number problems during their spare time just for fun.
You can actually determine if your kid is going to be good at maths. Researchers recently published a series of tests that parents can administer to kids who are just starting out at elementary school. The tests have been shown to predict math success up to one year later.
The “8 Questions” test
Figuring out how to tell if your kid is going to be good at maths based on the test is a maths hurdle, too. So you better prepare yourself. Here we go.
First, you’ll have to answer the following eight questions about your child by scoring how well your child did in each item. The score ranges from 1 (very much disagree) to 7 (very much agree).
Second, add up the scores from questions 2, 3, 4, and 7. Once you have the total, subtract the sum of the scores for 1, 5, and 8 from the first total. (Maths is hard, ugh.)
The perfect score — and sign of potential maths genius — is 25.
- Is easily confused by changes in routine
- Understands how the seasons of the year follow each other
- Can easily recall the order in which past events happened
- Is able to plan a sequence of activities independently
- Finds it difficult to learn new activities that involve a sequence of actions which have to be performed in a particular order (putting together the parts of a toy in the right order)
- Would be able to recall the order of typical daily events
- Understands that some things always have to be done in a particular order
- Finds it difficult to understand how the days of the week follow each other
Picture cards test
Of course, a parent’s biases can colour the test above. You can try the following test:
Draw up six note cards or look for images online of the following: a child waking, getting dressed, going to school, eating lunch, eating dinner, and going to bed. Show your kid the images and explain the order in which they happen.
Afterwards, ask your child to take out three images from the pile and place them in the correct order. Try it a few more times. If your child gets it right most of the time, it could be a sign of stronger potential for maths.
The counting test
Then there’s another test. (Oh my, they don’t stop, do they?)
You can ask your kid to count as high as he or she can. They don’t need to go higher than 50, though. Then, ask your kid to count backward from the highest number until they arrive back at one.
Afterwards, pick a random number within the range your kid counted and ask them to count upwards from there. Then reverse it again.
If your kid does well in the exercise, it’s a good sign they might have great potential for maths.
Maths isn’t just all about numbers
Of course, not every child is born good at maths, so it’s not about whether they can count well or not. It’s more about ordering things in sequence than memorising rules and solving word problems.
“Our detailed analyses of the components of the formal maths tests also showed that ordinality was important to all aspects of maths, including counting, calculation, and the understanding of number facts and measures,” the scientists who designed these tests said.
“Even at the very earliest stages of formal schooling, children’s general ability to process order as demonstrated in familiar everyday tasks and to a lesser extent, their ability to order daily events, plays an important role in the successful development of more mature maths skills.”
So basically, a child who understands cause and effect, and the proper sequence of events tend to be better at maths. Once they can understand how order works, it becomes easier for them to understand how logic works.
If your kid isn’t good at maths
Now, don’t worry. These tests were done in a laboratory setting, with laboratory conditions. Your kids could already be good at maths like counting and ordering. However, trying to measure them can affect the outcome.
They may already be applying maths well in their daily tasks without you breathing down their necks. Testing your kids might already affect how they perform because of the pressure they feel. Or they might feel conscious when they are observed.
If your kid seems like he or she has poor math skills, it may not have anything to do with ability. The cause may be a lack of interest. Your child may think it’s just difficult, intimidating, and not fun at all.
You can show your child that maths can be fun, too. Here are some ways you can make maths fun for your kids.
5 Ways you can make maths fun for your kids
1. Play maths-based games
You can teach them maths-based games, whether they’re tabletop games, board games, or card games. You can also do puzzles since they’re usually all about order and sequence. It also helps when there’s an element of competition.
2. Use smart devices for educational purposes
You can use their smart devices to your advantage. Download apps and games that help teach and reinforce mathematical concepts, and play them with your child. There are a lot of apps for this purpose like Prodigy, Mathville or Dreambox.
3. Show them how and why maths is relevant
Children usually switch off when they encounter something that isn’t relevant to them. So it’s important to constantly show them how maths is used in everyday life. For instance, cooking and shopping involve math, from measurements and telling time to checking the temperature and counting money.
4. Be careful with what you say
Remember when we said parents who openly hate on maths can affect their kids’ attitude towards maths? Even just saying “I was never good with maths” can discourage them from ever taking up an interest in it.
Instead, encourage kids to embrace the challenge. Engage them in mathematical activities. Don’t use the word “drill” and instead use “practice.”
5. Connect math with language and other fields
If your child is more interested in literature and art, you can connected these fields to maths.
A great place to start is Greg Tang’s books, which are very popular. You can try to look for picture books and fictional books that have mathematical concepts at their core. Even interesting non-fiction books can help, too.
Being good at maths isn’t everything
Even if your kid doesn’t show a propensity for being good at maths, you shouldn’t worry. And you shouldn’t pressure your child. Intelligence comes in many forms, it isn’t genetic, and it can be built from the ground up. Nobody is born dumb and to believe it is to believe a lie. Even IQ can improve with hard work, it isn’t sent in stone.
It’s really all about your approach to intelligence and what you put first — your children or their intelligence? When you put your kids first, everything else follows.