Practising mathematics actively
Children can play games involving numbers to practise concepts like addition and subtraction in a more casual environment.
While adults may take for granted that they use mathematical concepts involving money, measurements, shapes and patterns in routine tasks, parents can make these concepts more visible in their child’s environment. This would help to stimulate the child’s curiosity. The shapes of household objects could be used to help children identify shapes more readily.
Indeed, daily life contains a wealth of opportunities for children to apply mathematics concepts and get involved in family life. From the kitchen to the child’s room, from the car to the supermarket, all sorts of activities such as cooking from a recipe, sorting toys, tearing off the tabs of parking coupons and reading price labels can help to strengthen a child’s understanding of measurement, time, money and fractions. Through these activities, children will see how such concepts are being used in the real world all the time.
Parents could make it a point always to count from left to right (or right to left), to minimise confusion. In counting, they could emphasise the last counting word. “Do this by emphasising the last number you say: ‘One, two, three, four. There are four sweets.’ This helps your child to see that the last counting word you say tells you how many things there were.”
Colourful blocks and other toys or props can be used to prompt counting habits.
Examining the world, mathematically
But children should not only be prodded to react to the numbers and shapes around them, letting the child ask and answer his or her own questions. This could be done by letting the child compare if there is “more” or “less” of an object. For example, at the supermarket, the child could be asked whether there were more water melons than papayas on display, then the parent can guide the child to count and answer the question.
In the same vein, parents can deepen their child’s engagement with mathematics by giving them the opportunity to think independently. Looking at a sales advertisement in the newspaper together, parents can ask their child to apply their addition or subtraction skills to work out the savings for each item and figure out which item offers the most savings. With a deck of playing cards, parents can play variations of a game like Snap to test their child’s understanding of numbers. Traditionally, players call out “Snap!” when identical cards are turned up, but parents could tweak the rules so that “Snap!” applies when a card with a bigger or smaller value appears.
The more children develop confidence about mathematics through fun and games, the more comfortable they will feel as they learn more complex concepts.
importance of collaborating with their child’s school, in order to reinforce at home what the child has been learning and practising during mathematics lessons. While learning about the formal mathematics syllabus and keeping up with the child’s individual progress is useful, it is also suggested that parents participate in school-based workshops on how to teach different topics to their children at home. Parents can also volunteer their services for school programmes, so that they can witness their child’s learning for themselves.
Taking a walk in the neighbourhood with the child will provide opportunities for parents to get their child to identify patterns in numbers, shapes and colours – such as by looking at building numbers or the clothes worn by passers etc.
Learning of mathematics should always be made meaningful and fun.