How Can I Talk to My Disinterested Child About Everyday Math

You love math and want to talk to your child about how cool math is or you just know that talking positively about math is just the “right thing to do”, but your child just isn’t interested. Find out how you can talk to your child about everyday math when they’re just not interested. The transcript of the video is below. Click here to watch the video on You Tube complete with subtitles.

 

 

Hello, I’m Caroline Mukisa from mathsinsider.com and today I’m going to talk about a question from a Maths Insider reader and they asked, “How can I keep talking about math and try to encourage my child about maths and everyday maths if they’re just not interested?” So I’ve got three tips for you here.

Keep talking about math

No.1:  Great! Fantastic! It’s really good that you’re doing that and carry on doing it! Keep on doing it, because one day they might change their minds. I’ll give you 2 little examples to illustrate this:

When I was a child I hated avocados and my dad use to go on about how amazing avocados were, how tasty they were, how healthy they were, all the vitamins and minerals they had in them, and now as adult I really like avocados and I can think back and remember all the good things about the avocados and as my taste matured, as I got older I can then see that yes, this was a worthy fruit to enjoy. So keep on talking to your child about maths because you never know when their taste might mature and they might remember some of the things that you mentioned.

The other example is: my 6 year old is really into Lego Ninjago and I used to just always think, he’s watching Lego Ninjago again that’s just a load of rubbish, it’s just some silly cartoon, but actually I sat down with him one day and asked him all about it. I said, “So, who is this character? Is this character good? Is that one bad? Why are they doing this and what have they done in the past?” and he was actually able to explain it to me, and from him giving an explanation, I can actually understand why he likes it, and I can see some of the interesting characters and some of the interesting plots that they used. So again your child might say “Aargh! Mum or Dad are talking about maths again!” but one day they might actually think, “But actually I remember when they pointed out something interesting about maths and they were right.” So keep on doing it.

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Relate math to what interests your child

The next thing is actually to relate the maths to what they are actually interested in. So you might be pointing out some interesting chart in the newspaper or some maths to do with grocery shopping, but actually if they are into horses, you can talk to them about how vets use maths. If they are into Minecraft, you can talk to them how maths is used in computer programming a lot and maybe sign them up for some computer programming courses. There are some really good ones on Hour of Code. There are other courses where you can actually learn how to program mods in Minecraft, so that’s worth looking at. Also I found something nice –  Pixar Math – so they’ve got together with Khan Academy and they’re explaining how maths is use in Pixar movies and the animations and that’s sort of really interesting as well. So try and find out what they are actually interested in and try and relate that to maths.

Discuss how math can help in future careers

The next thing, the last tip is to actually ask them about what their future plans are. Now I guess this will change depending on how old they are, so you’ll get a different answer depending on whether you ask a 4 year old to or whether you ask a 14 year old. One of my students was very reluctant to do extra maths, he was struggling a bit with maths at school,  he was very reluctant to do any extra maths and his mum actually said to him, “Well what is it that you want to do when you grow up?” and he said, “I want to be a car designer.” I think it’s for Audi, and she said, “Well, why don’t you write to Audi, go and email them and ask them, “Do you need maths to be a car designer?” and he did. He emailed them and he got a reply and they said, “Oh yea, you definitely need lots of maths, we look for strong mathematicians when we’re looking to employ people to be car designers” and then he was a little less reluctant and a little more willing to do extra maths and he is coming along quite nicely.

So ask your child what they want to do in the future. I guess for some things, if they want to be a dancer or an author it not easy to immediately think of things, but whatever profession, if they’re going to earn money they’re going to need to know how to handle the money, especially if something in the entertainment business, there are agents to pay and agents who are looking to rip you off. So there is always a link to maths in whatever their future ambitions are.

Get Ahead in Math and Still Enjoy the Holidays!

The holidays are a great time to consolidate math knowledge. Find out how your child can use the holidays to get ahead in math and still have plenty of time for fun and relaxation. The transcript of the video is below. Click here to watch this video on You Tube

Hello, I’m Caroline from MathsInsider.com and today I’m going to share with you some tips about how to keep maths going over the holiday. So today is the first day of my kids school holiday and I’m hoping to keep some maths going for them. So I thought I’d share some of the tips that I’m using with my own kids and I’m sharing with my Thinkster Math (formerly Tabtor)  students as well.

Relax and enjoy the holidays!

So, number one, it’s not a case of, “You’ve got to do maths the whole holiday! Maths, maths, maths.” Yes, of course, you must have time to relax. Your kids must have time to relax, to stare at the ceiling, to open their presents, to enjoy time with their family and friends. But also, the holidays are a great time to get ahead with maths and to consolidate ideas, so it is worth trying to slot a little bit of maths into the holidays.

In Australia, they’ve got the big summer holiday, it’s six weeks. The rest of the world is probably about two or three weeks but in those two or three weeks, even if you’re having Christmas day off, New Year’s Day off, you can still get lots of maths done.

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Identify 1 or 2 math topics to focus on

So the first thing to do is to actually identify what topics you want to cover. So think back to any topics that your child has come home with which they’ve struggled with in their homework or topics that your teachers mentioned. Or you could look ahead to see what they’re doing, if you’ve had a newsletter from school and see if there’s any topics on there that you can identify. Don’t try and do the whole curriculum, the whole syllabus in one holiday, that’s going to drive you crazy. And as a parent, you need time to relax as well, so just try to identify one or two topics.

For my little one, I’m trying to just do the twos, fives, and tens times tables. I think he kind of knows them, but I just want to make sure that he can kind of do them out of order. So just pick something really simple and if you’re not sure, just grab — if they’re an older kid, you can grab their maths book and see, “Well, they didn’t get good grades on this topic or that topic.”

Fix a “math time”

Number two is to fix a time when you’re going to do this work. So maybe first thing in the morning. For my own kids, they like to go out and play. The main thing in holidays is that they’re allowed to play out after dark so I’ll say to them, “If you want to go out and play with your friends after dark, then let’s just do a little bit maths.” So fix the time. Is it going to be first thing in the morning? Is a going to be before they go out to play? Is it going to be straight away after lunch? Try and fix the time, that this will be the maths time. I’m not saying that they should spend an hour doing maths, that’s fine if they’re willing to do that and they’re happy to do that, but even two minutes, five minutes, ten minutes is going to add maths knowledge into their lives.

Choose fun math resources

The next thing is to choose your resources. So your kids might not want to sit down with a maths book or lots of maths worksheets, so use this time to introduce something slightly more interesting or relaxing. So if you want to use some seasonal worksheets and print those off, that’s fine. For the times tables I’m using a cute little app called Squeebles because that’s kind of fun and they get to play as well as do times tables, so that’s something slightly different. But if you’re already on a program like Kumon or Thinkster Math, that’s fine. You can do the standard things, but don’t make them. Try to make it a bit more interesting. This should be a time spent with family and friends so you don’t want to be stressed and give them the worst options. Try to give them the best options.

Highlight everyday math

The next thing is to just introduce, just highlight maths in your everyday life. So in the holidays you’ve got sales, you can talk about numbers of the sales, you can talk about how many Lego bricks do you think you’ve used for this set – estimating. You can talk about maths journey times if you’re traveling or family and friends are coming to visit you. So just be aware to highlight the maths that’s around you during this time.

 

8 Practical Ways to Conquer Your Child’s Math Anxiety

Is math anxiety really a thing?

Math anxiety, that is feelings of stress, fear and apprehension when it comes to doing math, is certainly real. In fact scientists have developed different ways to measure mathematical related anxiety including the MARS (Mathematics Anxiety Rating Scale) and the Fennema-Sherman Mathematics Attitudes Scales (FSMAS).

A child suffering from math anxiety is not necessarily “bad at math”, but the stress they feel in math class and the avoidance tactics they use to minimize the amount of math they need to do, mean that they often don’t get the much needed practise that leads to math fluency.

A research based approach to math anxiety

Fortunately, research has found that, when it comes to math anxiety, parents can offer a great deal of help and support to their children. The infographic below  gives 8 science-backed, practical ways to help parents conquer their child’s math anxiety.

 

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8 Practical Ways to Conquer Your Child’s Math Anxiety

1. Be involved

Student success in school has been shown to increase if their parents are positively involved in their education.

2. Encourage a growth mindset

Studies have shown that effort trumps ability when it comes to learning math, so set high expectations when encouraging your child.

3. Be positive about math

A parent’s perception of mathematics influences not only their child’s perception, but also their achievement in mathematics.

4. Overcome gender stereotypes

Foster math confidence regardless of the gender of your child by highlighting achievements made by both male and female scientists.

5. Learn the basics  

Rote learning is essential to mathematics performance as a many higher level concepts build the memorization and repetition of the basic math facts.

6. Allow mistakes  

Focus on the concepts rather than the right answer since making (and correcting) mistakes is an essential part of math learning.

 

7. Take baby steps 

Support new topics by slowly building from the topics your child already understands. Use gradual, repeated success to build math confidence in your child.

8. Make math relevant to real life

Highlight ways in which you and your family use math in everyday life and discuss how good math skills will open the doors to a larger choice of career options.

Share this Infographic On Your Site


 

Homeschooled with MIT courses at 5, accepted to MIT at 15

MIT News
November 16, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-11-26 at 3.30.02 PMSuch a heart warming story! Click on the link icon above to read the full story.

“My parents always supported me and found the materials I needed to keep learning. My mother was a resource machine. As I got older, I studied math through OCW’s Highlights for High School program, and when I was ready for Linear Algebra, I watched all of Professor Gil Strang’s 18.06 video lectures. From the time I was 5, I learned exclusively from OCW. And I knew then I wanted to go to MIT.”

Kids (and grown-ups) love it when the math is easy, but it’s often the struggles and the breakthroughs that make math so exciting.

Does Your Child Know Their Basic Math Facts? Read These 4 Essential Tips

Watch the video on You Tube here

Read the transcript below:

4 Tips to Help Your Child Learn Their Basic Math Facts

Hello, my name is Caroline Mukisa from the Maths Insider website and today I’m going to answer a question from a Maths Insider reader, “How can I get my child to learn the basic facts?”

So I’m going to first of all talk about how much effort is going to be needed to learn the basic facts and then I’m going to talk about the order in which to do the facts. Further, I’m going to talk about location, location, location, give you some good tips on where and when to do that kind of learning. And finally I’m going to give you a secret tip at the end.

Will learning the basic math facts take a lot of effort?

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So first of all, how much effort is it going to take? Well, when I was a Kumon instructor, when I ran a Kumon center in London, my students were doing a lot of basic facts learning. So on the typical Kumon worksheet, say for example addition and subtraction, each student would be doing about 200 to 300 questions every day on that particular fact whether it’s +1s or +2s or a mixture of +1s and 2s. So that’s why Kumon kids are generally really, really fast in their basic arithmetic.
Now, I don’t do that with my own kids now and as a Thinkster Math (formerly Tabtor) instructor, each Thinkster Math worksheet has about 30 questions for the arithmetic section which is fine and some kids do two or three in a row so I guess they did 90. But to be frank, even if you can get 10 questions done or 5 questions done, or a few questions done several times a week, that’s brilliant, that’s better than doing nothing, okay? So don’t have in your head that this is going to be a huge, humongous task.You know, obviously if you want your kids to be really, really fast you’re going to need to put in some Kumon effort, some Kumon style effort. If you want them to be quite fast then put in some Thinkster Math effort and if you just want them to get the basic facts, then just do 10 questions several times a week.

Learn the basic math facts in this order

The next thing I’m going to go over is what order should you ask the questions? So I’ve got my whiteboard over here. So I’ve kind of got the 4 times tables, that my son was doing last week. I wrote them in order first, then in order again, and then in the next row I kind of skipped some and just wrote the odd number and then the even number times tables. So generally, try to do them in order. I would start with something that’s really easy. So if you know they’re struggling with their four times tables, start off with the two times tables. Give them that confidence by starting at an easier starting point.
So if you notice, for example, for addition, that they’re finding 8+5 difficult. (That 8+5 is the question I always ask my new Thinkster Math students. “What’s 8+5?”) If they can give me that quickly, then I know their arithmetic is generally okay. That’s just one of those facts that takes me a fraction of a second longer to get, so that’s why I picked 8+5. So if they’re struggling with 8+5, then give them an easier starting point. You could start with even the +1s and +2s and +3s and just give them the confidence to go fast. If they can do 9+3 quite quickly, then the leap from 9+3 to 8+5 isn’t that huge, but give them a running start, give them some easy work to get started with.

You don’t necessarily need to do the math facts at a desk

Taking my own advice from my Faster Times Tables website - use games to reinforce the times tables. Game board printed from the Twinkl website and LEGO game pieces custom built by my 8 year old!

Taking my own advice from my Faster Times Tables website – use games to reinforce the times tables. Game board printed from the Twinkl website and LEGO game pieces custom built by my 8 year old!

The other thing I want to talk about is where should you do them. Well of course, you know, you’re probably thinking I’m going to sit in front of them and I’m going to ask them lots of questions or I’m going to make them do lots of times tables worksheets. That’s fine. If your child is happy with doing that, that’s great. My son, last week, was going through a stage where he really didn’t want to do worksheets, he didn’t even want to write the answers so I wrote the questions and then I wrote the answers when he shouted them out to me.
And I’ve got some spellings over here on the whiteboard. You can see my other son’s spellings, so he decides to write those on the board but when we practice spellings, actually we usually practice them in the bathroom and then he writes with the board pen on the shower stall. So you can use that tip or you can even use a window because some kids just like writing somewhere different.
Another great tip is to do them in the car. So this tip came from one of my Thinkster Math parents. So what she does is she gets her child to do Thinkster Math while she’s driving because that way she can hear when the child is getting questions right or wrong. There’s like an audio sound of the Thinkster Math app. If her daughter gets stuck, she can give her some advice. She can say, “Hey, watch the video or read the question again,” but she’s not actually sitting over her and saying, “Do this, this, and this,” because she can’t, she’s driving. So I think in the car is a great location. You’ll probably notice that when you ask your kids a question they’ll often look away while they think of the answer. Also, it’s kind of confrontational if you’re staring at them, “Hey, what’s 8×9?” So try that, try in the car so that there’s less pressure if they get the questions wrong.

Learn the math facts by making mistakes

And finally, my last tip, is allow them to make mistakes. It’s not a big deal, don’t react, “Ah, you don’t know what 8×9 is?!” Just tell them, “8×9,” if they get it wrong, “It’s 72. What’s 8×9?” They say, “72.” “What’s 8×9?” “72.” So just ask them a few times before moving on and then have in mind that that’s one of those times tables that you’re going to have to go and review.

Tips for learning the math facts

So if we go back to the beginning:

  1. Do as many as you can. Lots will get through the process faster and your child will be faster at the basic facts. But even if you’re doing 10 facts several times a week, that’s fine, they’re going to get there.
  2. Go in order, start with something that’s slightly too easy, that’s fine.
  3. Do them in the car, on a whiteboard, on the window, on the shower stall. Just find somewhere really good to do them, somewhere different.(Actually, my son also likes playing board games so we adapted a board game and made it a times tables board game; using something we printed out.)
  4. And finally, allow them to make mistakes.

So for more quick tips and practical advice to help your kids to maths success, go to the Maths Insider website: www.mathsinsider.com.

3 Steps to Keeping Your Child Motivated on any Math Program

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Last week I published the new Maths Insider survey asking readers What is Your No.1 Challenge When it Comes to Guiding Your Child to Math Success?

I’ve had lots of great responses already! Thanks to those who have filled the survey. One parent asked the question ” How Can I Keep my Kids Motivated on their Supplementary Math Program?”

Click below to find out 3 great ways to help keep your child motivated when they start complaining about their math program, whether it’s Kumon, Thinkster Math (formerly Tabtor), Khan Academy or any one of the myriad of math programs out there:

How do you keep your child motivated when they just don’t want to do math?

Tell me in the comments below!

What is Your No. 1 Math Help Challenge ?

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I’d love to hear how I can help!

It’s been several years since I’ve conducted my last survey. It’s a shame and it means I haven’t done all I can to best understand and help you.
I’m determined, however, to make Maths Insider the best it can be for you, and it all starts with a brand new survey!
All answers are collected anonymously and your response will be a primary factor in shaping the future of what I do, what gets published, what the site looks like and ultimately your experience with Maths Insider.
I’m really excited, and I hope you’ll give a few minutes of your time to take this incredibly important audience survey.
I’ve already had some great responses:
How do do I keep my child motivated on a math program?
How can I help with their lack of understanding of the basics?
How can I help keep him interested in the homework that is mere repetition of the school lesson. He gets bored and demotivated?
So go ahead and fill the Maths Insider No.1 Challenge survey!

Challenge Survey

 

 

 

How Tutoring Can Cure Math Anxiety

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.

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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.

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So what can you as a parent of a math anxious child do to help?

1 – Get a tutor – for help finding a great tutor to work one on one with your child, read my posts: Need a Math Tutor – Read These 6 Tips and A Maths Tutor Reveals All

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

3 – Check their confidence level – Find out how your child sees their own math ability. Check out: How Confident is Your Child at Maths? Take the Quiz!

You can find the full article about how tutoring affects math anxiety on the Science Daily website.

Animated Math from Pixar Math in a Box

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

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:

Art&Story

Modeling

Rigging

Surfaces

Sets&Staging

Animation

Lighting

Rendering

 

Pixar in a box topic

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: