Some people get anxious when they have to stand up and speak in public, some feel anxiety when they’re in crowded spaces and many feel anxious when they have to do math.
As an adult it’s easy to mask math anxiety by avoiding situations where you have to math, but like it or not math is a major part of school curricula worldwide and your child is likely to be doing some kind of math, if not daily, then at least several times a week and often in a class setting where their peers will be in a position to judge their math ability.
I’ve worked in math education for over 20 years and am a big advocate of kids doing a little bit of extra math each day or each week to boost their math ability and confidence. So it is interesting that researchers at Stanford University have recently published a paper demonstrating that math tutoring does indeed help students with math anxiety. The researcher took 2 groups of 3rd Graders (8 and 9 year olds) and gave one group one on one tutoring sessions for 8 weeks. After the 8 weeks, researchers found that both groups had improved their level of math skills but in addition “The children who started the study with high levels of math anxiety had reduced anxiety after tutoring” There was no change isn anxiety levels for those who started out with low anxiety levels.
So what can you as a parent of a math anxious child do to help?
2 – Tutor your child yourself – the key feature of the tuition in the Stanford research was that when students encountered difficulties the tutors made sure to try to “get the child beyond the bottleneck in a non-negative, encouraging way.” Often as a parent, we want our kids to be better than us and don’t like it when they get things wrong. Being patient with your child when they can’t do the math will greatly reduce anxiety levels all round. Read more: The Key to Successfully Tutoring Your Own Children Maths
A career as an Animator is one of the math-related careers in my freebie PDF 21 Seriously Cool Careers that need math. So I was really excited when I heard that the animation superstars at Pixar had teamed up with the genius math folk at Khan Academy to bring an interactive learning experience called Pixar in a Box, showing how math is used to animate our favorite cartoon characters.
Pixar in a box in a box aims to
…show you how the concepts you learn in school are used to tackle creative challenges we face during the making of Pixar films. Along the way you’ll also learn a lot about Pixar’s filmmaking process….
Topics covered include:
Each topic includes a design activity (suitable for those ages 10 years+) followed by a math activity, some of which are suitable for 10 year olds and some which will need middle school or high school math knowledge. The Educators Guide gives suggested grade levels for each activity, as well as some additional offline activities.
There’s an active comments section under each video, where students can ask questions and there are math exercises to complete based on the particular math topic linked to the design activity(with links to additional instructional math videos).
This is a great resource for both keen mathematicians and those who are always asking “When will I need math?”
Check out the Pixar in a Box introductory video below:
I highlighted how cool math podcasts are in my post here on Maths Insider, Listen Up! 8 Fascinating Podcasts to Spark a Love of Math in Your Teen. I still listen to podcasts in my car but recently Mr Maths Insider bought me a waterproof bluetooth speaker which I use to listen to podcasts in the shower (too much info??). Since then, I’ve discovered more cool science and math podcasts which I share below. Some are great for young kids and some will inspire teen mathematicians. Check the descriptions below. You can also click on each of my favorite episodes right here in the post!
1. Brains On – great for kids
Brains On by Minnesota Public Radio describes itself as a podcast featuring science for kids and curious adults. My younger kids like listening to Brains on episodes as they fall asleep at night. Great for kids and adults.
Maths Insider pick: Numbers
The questions we have about numbers are uncountable – but here are a few of them: Where does zero come from? How is there more than one kind of infinity? What is it like to do math when numbers have different colors – and personalities? click below to listen to the Numbers episode.
2. The Infinite Monkey Cage – British wit + science
The Infinite Monkey Cage is a British podcast science podcast which describes itself as a “Witty, irreverent look at the world through scientists’ eyes. The show is presented by Professor Brian Cox and stand up comedian Robin Ince. This podcast does make me chuckle and is great proof that scientists do have a great sense of humor. Great for teens and adults.
Maths Insider pick: Numbers Numbers Everywhere
Although many people fear maths and will admit to dreading any task that requires even basic skills of numeracy, the truth is that numbers really are everywhere and our relationship with them can, at times, be oddly emotional. Why do so many people have a favourite number, for example, and why is it most often the number 7? Click below to the Numbers, Numbers Everywhere episode.
3. Planet Money – short, sweet and always interesting
On NPR’s Planet Money, you’ll meet high rollers, brainy economists and regular folks – all trying to make sense of our rapidly changing global economy. Each episode of Planet money is relatively short (about 15 – 20 mins long) and it’s one of the few podcasts that i listen to where I like to make sure i’ve listened to every episode as they are always really interesting regardless of the topic. Great for pre teens, teens and adults.
Maths Insider pick:The Long Run
Stories about a $50,000 loophole, what neighborhoods mean for kids, and what the Six Million Dollar Man would cost today. This is my favorite podcast episode in this post! Click below to listen to The Long Run episode.
4. Science Weekly – serious science simplified
The Guardian’s science team brings you the best analysis and interviews from the worlds of science and technology. I only discovered this podcast recently thanks to fellow Thinkster Math (formerly Tabtor) Tutor Dan Cox who shared it on his Delta Maths Facebook page. So far, I’ve only listened to the episode below, but I’ve already picked out some other episodes of Science Weekly to listen to. Great for pre teens, teens and adults.
Maths Insider pick:How maths can change your life
Mathematician Jordan Ellenberg argues that maths can help all of us become sharper thinkers. This episode has some cool insights and discussion focusing around how everyone needs math. Click below to listen to How maths can change your life.
5. The Story Collider – live science storytelling
According to Story Collider, “Science surrounds us. Even when we don’t notice it, science touches almost every part of our lives. At the Story Collider, we believe that everyone has a story about science—a story about how science made a difference, affected them, or changed them on a personal and emotional level. We find those stories and share them in live shows and on our podcast. Sometimes, it’s even funny.” I’m a fan of story telling podcasts such as This American Life and The Moth, so the Story Collider podcast with its mix of science and story telling is a favorite listen of mine. Great for teens and adults.
Maths Insider pick: Your Favorite Number: Alex Bellos is surprised that people ask him what his favorite number is, so he decides to ask everyone what theirs is.
Take a listen to the math podcasts above. Which ones did you like? Tell me in the comments below.
Arecent study by the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) has highlighted the problem of girls’ lack of math confidence. From the report:
Girls “lack self-confidence” in their ability to solve mathematics and science problems and achieve worse results than they otherwise would, despite outperforming boys overall
Girls do worse at math and sciences than boys, even though they do better in other subjects. This gender gap occurs in the majority of countries who took part in the PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) tests, but the gap in the UK, the US and Western Europe was much more noticeable.
A spokeperson from the OECD criticized the teaching of math in the UK which he says was “simple math wrapped in complex words,”compared to Asian countries where complex math is taught earlier and from first principles.
The report goes on to say that this gender gap is not because girls aren’t as clever or able as boys, in fact they do better than boys in reading tests, but their poor performance is due to a lack of confidence in their math skills and their belief that they won’t need math for their future careers.
As the mother of a 15 year old girl, these results sadden me, but I know that looking at the make up of the advanced math groups in her school, the majority of the class are boys, with only 5 girls out of 20 in her class and only 6 girls out of 25 in my 14 year old son’s advanced math group.
The OECD also looked at data from parent questionnaires and found that parents were much more likely to expect their sons to work in careers that needed math than their daughters.
What can we parents of girls do to lift our daughters from the bottom of the math confidence pile?
Research (and personal experience from my 4 kids) has shown that girls love reading books more than boys do. We’ve managed to sneak a few math books onto our daughter’s bookshelf over the years. You can find some engaging math story books in the Maths Insider Amazon store in the side bar. Also check out my blog post Go Read Some Math.
Find out what your daughter really thinks about math
Kids, especially as they get older, are often experts at hiding their true feelings. After reading this post, you’re more likely to look out for signs which indicate the level of your daughter’s math confidence. A casual chat in the car, or at the dinner table will yield more insights. You should also check out my “How Confident is Your Child at Math?” quiz here on Maths Insider.
As a biased math fanatic, I’d love it if every child loved math, and as a mother of 4, I’d be content if my own children loved math all the time. In reality, that’s just not going to happen. However, as parents, we want our children to be confident in all their subjects at school, and especially in the core subjects of math and English. We also don’t want the fact that our child is female, to mean she has fewer future career options. The advice above will help raise the math confidence of your child, whether it be your son or daughter, but the research shows the problem is more acute for our girls.
It’s been over 2 years since I blogged here on Maths Insider! So the first thing I’ll say is I’m sorry! I’ve still been connecting with Maths Insider readers through my Maths Insider Facebook page but have neglected those of you who have been coming over here for advice on helping your child with math.
So what has Maths Insider been up to for the past 2 years?
1) Working with Thinkster Math (formerly Tabtor)
For the past 2 years,I’ve been Thinkster Math‘s instructor for International students looking after families everywhere from the UK to Europe to Asia and lots and lots of Thinkster Math families in Australia and a few in New Zealand. Thinkster Math approached me after I reviewed the Thinkster Math program here on Maths Insider. As a Thinkster Math Instructor, I’ve been helping families guide their children to math success using Thinkster Math’s iPad based system.
The other thing I’ve been doing is I’ve started homeschooling one of my four kids. I’ve been homeschooling my 8 year old son for the past year and am pleased to announce that we’ve both survived our first year of homeschooling! The math has been straight forward thanks to Thinkster Math and another cool math resource that I’ll talk more about later, but finding out how to guide my child to homeschool success in English, History, Geography etc has put me in the position of being an anxious parent searching Google, blogs and Facebook pages to find that secret sauce. All this searching has made me realise that a blog such as Maths Insider is still a valuable resource which I need to keep adding to.
Families have read my eBook – The Ultimate Kumon Review and have been able to find out if the Kumon programme is right for their child.
I’ve also had people joining the 31 Days to Faster Times Tables membership site and using the worksheets, audio and video guides to get their kids over the Times Tables hurdle.
And I’m back!
Over the next month I’m going to give you a behind the scenes look at the Thinkster Math program, so you can see what tools I’ve been using there to help kids improve their math. I’ll also show you exactly how to use Thinkster Math’s 1 week free trial to identify your child’s math strengths and weaknesses.
I’ve got a blog post in my drafts box about Girls and Math Under-Confidence. It’s based on academic research and also on my daughter’s personal experience, as well as on my experience as an math educator for the past 20 years.
I’m bursting to write a review post about Life of Fred Math because it really is quite the most quirky, wonderful and inspirational series of math textbooks I’ve ever come across.
I’m also toying with the idea of writing about my experience as a Kumon franchisee. I get lots of queries from people who are interested in running a Kumon center, so an in-depth and honest post on the topic seems to be needed.
Over to you!
Apart from these ideas, I’d love to hear what questions you have about guiding your child to math success!
I saw this cool comic strip below, by the funny folks at Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal (SMBC), a few weeks ago on Facebook , and spent a good few minutes cry-laughing (is that a thing?) Even my daughter in the midst of wrangling with quadratic equations in preparation for a math test, joined in. You see, even for seasoned math teachers, math lovers and professional scientists and mathematicians, arithmetical errors are all too common when problem solving.
As part of my role as Instructor for International Students at Thinkster Math (formerly Tabtor), I was given 5 math worksheets at Grade 5 and 6 level to test and report back on any errors or inconsistencies before the worksheets were released onto the student app. Needless to say I made 1 or 2 (or 5) mistakes across the set of worksheets!
If you’re a parent of a child who’s struggling with arithmetic, you might not yet be able to see the funny side of SMBC’s satirical cartoon, but take heart that mental math mistakes happen to the best of us.
I’ve added some links below to some blog posts here on Maths Insider which will help polish your child’s mental math skills ready for the day when they need to solve that tricky physics problem!
For those who need a math education program that can allow high school students to work at their own pace, Educator.com may be what you’re looking for. Subject material from basic math skills to more advanced forms of linear algebra are present and ready for you to explore, as well as science and computing courses. While there are some materials that can be tested for free, a subscription is needed in order to take advantage of the courses at this website.
How Detailed are the Courses?
Each course is divided among several sections each carefully going through various aspects of the material. Videos are accompanied by notes, sometimes practice questions and downloadable slides in order to allow you to work on your specific section offline. Each section also provides an area that allows students to leave comments about each lecture.
Each section can have several hours’ worth of video content that students can watch in order to learn the material. Since this is a work-at-your-own-pace environment, you can watch these videos as often as you wish in order to help you retain the knowledge.
What Kind of Interaction Can be Expected?
The content provided at Educator.com is geared more towards the self-starter who is able to learn well from watching video. There is no interaction within the courses save for the comment section that every student has access to. Although there are a few quizzes that can be useful to help you determine if you are understanding the content, the actual interaction regarding the material is quite nominal. If you thrive on social interaction to achieve a common goal, Educator.com may not be the best of choices.
How Professional are the Lecture Providers?
Those that provide the video content of the website are seasoned professionals in his or her field. The video delivery is well performed and is spoken in a clear and understandable tone. Each professional seems to be well versed in his or her topic and provide detailed information. During the lecture, you can see the speaker on the right while he or she is working the content on the left in a larger window. While this gives the sense of interpersonal connection, the video can easily be paused reminding you that it’s not a live stream. Check out the sample video below:
What is the Cost of this Education?
Educator.com has several plans for those that may be interested in learning at his or her own pace through video content. While some may view the subscription plans as steep in comparison to other online educational materials, the quality of the content you will be receiving could be worth your investment.
Educator.com has a wide range of material covering math, science, programming and more. Each is quite detailed and can be broken down to specific areas of need. Whether you are looking for a brush-up on your mathematical skills or need in-depth tutoring and knowledge, the courses available can help you accomplish your goals. As with all work-at-your-own-pace themes to education, your success using this site will be ultimately determined of your own level of commitment. Keep a strong momentum and you will be successful learning additional mathematics.
Stephanie has many years of experience as a nanny. She has always loved children and has continuously been involved in childcare activities. Currently she is one of the writers for houstonnanny.com. If you want to get in touch with her, you can email her at stephanie. Houstonnanny @ gmail. com.
I want you to do some calculations for me, are you ready?
Think of a number between 1 and 5, don’t tell me what it is, but remember it for later. OK? Got one?
Now double it. OK?
Now add 10.
Now halve it (or divide it by 2 – same thing)
Now take away the number you started with.
Your answer is 5.
Well it should be, if it isn’t you made a mistake!
Lets try another one.
Think of a number between 1 and 5
The reason I keep it between 1 and 5 is because if you try this on someone who’s not so good at arithmetic, and they make a mistake, then it backfires on everybody, so keep the numbers small, many adults make mistakes on this, and younger humans too.
Think of a number between 1 and 5, (don’t tell me what it is, but remember it for later. OK? Got one?)
Now, multiply by 3. OK?
Now add 12.
Now divide it by 3.
Now take away the number you started with.
Your answer is 4.
Lets do one more, to show you more how the numbers can be varied each time, in fact you can make these up as you go along, which is what I am doing at this moment.
Think of a number between 1 and 5, don’t tell me what it is, but remember it for later. OK? Got one?
Now multiply by 5. OK?
Now add 10.
Now divide by 5.
Now take away the number you started with.
Your answer is 2.
Now, welcome to algebra…..
Lets see how this pretend telepathy actually works.
I often teach this at the beginning of learning algebra, partly as a way of entertaining my students, why not have fun learning?
We start off with a number we don’t know. Now in algebra, its actually useful to have a way of referring to something we don’t know. It might seem strange to you, but that’s what we do. This is a stage removed from maths so far, which we now refer to as arithmetic. Algebra is a kind of maths where we deal with not only numbers that we know like 6 or 3.2 or a quarter, but also numbers we don’t know (at least not yet). We use letters, often x, or another letter.
In this number trick, I think “x” when I consider your chosen number, and when I ask you to double the number in the first one, I don’t know what number you have now, but I do know that whatever it is, its twice the number we started with, so at this point in the trick we have
twice the number we don’t know. We still don’t know what it is.
Then I ask you to add 10. In algebra we represent this as
We still don’t know what the number is at this stage, but we do know, that whatever it is, it is twice what you started with, with 10 added on extra.
Now here’s the clever bit. What we now do, is halve the number you’ve got now, the 2x+10, and we can do that by halving the 2 pieces separately. Half of twice the number (2x) we don’t know is just the number (x), and half of 10 is 5.
Now this is clever because no-one really notices that the 10 and the 5 are connected (unless they know the trick), so we now take away the number you started with, which is the x, and guess what – you’re left with…
No matter what you started with, any uncertainty has now been removed. We now know exactly what the number you finished with is.
That’s how the first one works.
Now, lets look at the other 2 versions I created. Again you think of a number between 1 and 5, we write
A number we don’t know.
I’m very fond of this little phrase I tell my students, it makes them laugh (and me too). x is a number we don’t know, but we can still talk about it, even though we don’t know what it is!
Its easy to forget what x and these letters mean, we can end up with a pile of mumbo-jumbo and turns into a lot of nothing, if we forget the richness and clarity of what we’re doing.
Then I ask to multiply by 3, because I don’t know what the number is, (in fact you could have a whole roomful of people with different numbers). Its now three times the number you started with.
Now I ask to add 12, so we have 3 times the number I don’t know with 12 added on extra.
Now, cleverly we divide by 3, by dividing the 2 pieces separately. 3x divided by 3 is x. 12 divided by 3 is 4.
Then, we say take away the number you started with, (the x), and your answer is
Give people plenty of time to do this, as you’re trying to impress people, particularly people who don’t know the trick, you want to make sure the answer comes out right, because if someone sees this for the first time they can get a real fun shock at this point.
Lastly, again you think of a number between 1 and 5, we write
times by 5
divide by 5
Then, we say take away the number you started with, (the x), and your answer is
I hope that clarifies this trick, what you have to realise is that the number you multiply and divide by must be the same – 5 in the last case – otherwise its not going to come back to x at the end. The number you add on needs to be a number that that number goes into – in this case 10 must divide by 5, you couldn’t add 11 and have the answer come out to be a whole number.
You must always remember to take away the number they started with at the end. It may help to remember you have one of each of the 4 operations, a times, a plus, a divide and a minus, in that order.
If you havn’t seen this before I hope you found this interesting and fun, and hopefully now, or soon (you could always reread to clarify) you can play this trick on your friends and family, and even better your maths teacher which might impress them no end, and may even cause a creative diversion in the classroom.
Lawrence Ball is (http://www.lawrenceball.org) a long-term maths tutor (but also composer and musician), with a history of helping with motivation and difficulty, as well as with maths material. He has tutored privately including extended royal family, and all 4 children of Lady Helene Hayman, and has had big success in helping pupils with dyslexia.
He has developed ways to teach basic arithmetic which are innovative, and that promote relaxed concentration. He lives in North London.
Maths. It’s one of those subjects your children either love or hate.
For some, getting their head around number patterns, learning their times tables, and mastering long division is just too much to bear. But maths has been considered ‘boring’ for far too long.
It’s such a valuable subject, that teaches your children skills for life. Skills they will need to employ almost every day in their adult life. So it’s time to start a revolution. It’s time we started celebrating maths and making it fun.
Here, are five fun resources you can use – either at school or in the home – to make learning maths a blast:
We’re witnessing a technology boom, and children of all ages know their way around an iPhone or iPad better than many adults. If this sounds like your kids, you should embrace their tech-savvy nature and make maths fun with an app or two.
There are plenty of apps for children of all ages and abilities, making this a great aid for many parents. A quick browse of the app store on your mobile or tablet will bring up a plethora of free and paid for apps, designed at teaching different skills.
If you don’t own a tablet but still want to make the most of these more modern methods, the World Wide Web is by far your biggest ally.
There are a whole host of websites and online games designed to make maths fun; many of which, your children won’t even see as learning. Again, do your research and find out the best ones for your child’s age and ability, but you won’t be short on options.
Mashable recently posted their pick of ‘5 Fun Ways to Help Children Learn Maths Online’. You can check that out here for some inspiration and places to start.
3. The TV
Believe it or not, your kids can get clued up on maths by watching the TV.
Children’s television has always had a strong focus on learning, but this has only increased in recent years. Now, your kids can watch some great programmes that are all geared towards making maths – and other subjects – fun and interesting.
There are also a number of dedicated revision services and programmes available via your television which can be a great aid for older children. The TV is a great maths teaching aid as it doesn’t really feel like learning, but you’d be surprised at what your children pick up on.
Some children learn better by ‘doing’, which is where these more tangible maths aids come in. Games like Times Table Snap, Primary Numbers Bingo and Fraction Towers are all great ways you and your children can play and learn together.
There is also a lot to be said for ‘playing shop’ with your children. Write a price list for things you can buy from their ‘shop’ and ask them to be shop keeper. Do your shopping and ask them to tally up the amount in their head. You can then get them to work out how much change you’re owned and what coins they could give you.
This is fun and something you can do for real if you take your children along when you do the weekly shop. These aids can be brought online or in local toy stores and are a must-have for parents looking to make learning maths more fun.
Never underestimate the power – or fun – of a good workbook.
Some children will prefer this method of learning as it is similar to how they’re taught at school. You can get loads of work books aimed at different age groups online, and go through them with your little ones.
Choose ones with bright colours, loads of images and plenty of variety. If you can work through the more fun games and puzzles, you will be able to foster a love of maths. You should also buy puzzle books like Sudoku’s and other number puzzles for your children. They keep the brain active, and are a great way of learning new skills.
There are plenty of fun resourcess for learning maths that you can purchase for your children, and a whole host of ways you change your kids’ perception of the subject. Sure it can be hard at times, but it is a hugely important subject and one that can be fun when you look at it a new way.
Clare Evans is writing on behalf of Core Assets, the largest private agency for fostering in the UK, and recent winner of the Global Diversity Award 2013.
Technology is a huge part of teenage lives today. Modern high school students are comfortable with technology, and just about every one of them has access to a smartphone, tablet or computer. Technology also has something of a negative stigma. Parents are usually looking for ways to limit screen time. This technology, however, can have positive uses and impacts on student lives. There are a variety of useful math apps students can download for free or very cheap to their iPhone or iPad.
There are a variety of apps, some free and some for a few bucks, that turn an iPhone into a full graphing calculator. Gone are the days when parents were forced to spend $80 or more on graphing calculators for their students’ algebra and geometry classes. This math app for high schoolers does everything you would expect from a graphing calculator, including draw functions and perform advanced calculations.
This $3 app gives students an algebra tutor right on their phone. The Algebra Touch math app provides a series of lessons and practice problems that explore the concepts of middle and high school algebra. The app is great for visual learners because students can swipe to manipulate the problem right on their screen. The app also provides step-by-step instructions for students who are struggling to learn the concepts.
This $2 app is like downloading an interactive math textbook to a smartphone. The app covers all areas of high school math, including algebra 1 and 2, geometry, probability, statistics, trigonometry and calculus. The app has an incredible amount of information and content for its price. While it is not as game-like as other teaching tools, it does give students the tutorials, examples and practice they need to be successful in their math classes.
While this free app is not strictly a math app, SAT Up covers math, critical reading and writing as presented on the SAT exam. The SAT is an important part of any high school student’s life, and its scores have a large impact on that student’s access to colleges and chance of academic scholarships. Math is a key area on the SAT, and preparing for the math section of the test usually takes some hard work on the student’s part. This app gives students hundreds of practice SAT questions so they can get accustomed to what the test contains and get an idea of how they might score. It will also help them identify weak areas where they could use some more practice or tutoring.
This free app is a database of important math formulas covering all areas of high school math and beyond. Students often struggle with math questions because they cannot recall the proper formula or are unable to find that formula in their textbook. This is an excellent companion study too to help students who may be drowning in formulas.
This high school math app is free and has an incredible level of useful content. The app covers all areas of math with multiple courses and hundreds of lessons per course. The lessons are delivered via video recording, so students can listen to instructions and watch examples as if they had a live tutor. This is a great option for students who may be struggling to learn from textbooks alone and need more instruction beyond their class time.
Apps can be a great way to support your child’s learning. Rather than taking technology away, reinforce that there are positive and constructive ways to use that technology. Especially if you have a struggling student, these apps and others like them can put your child back on the path to success.
This post is contributed by Christine Maddox. Currently she is pursuing her Master’s degree from University of Texas as well as blogging for www.4nannies.com. She loves to write anything related to parenting, kids, nanny care etc. She can be reached via email at: christine.4nannies @ gmail.com.