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Math: Imagination, Inspiration & Fun!

Published: 08/15/2007 by Susan Jarema

» Education & Learning Support

I spend much of my time motivating and inspiring children to enjoy math and commit to building their “math force.” I’ve been fortunate that my own two children had a head start on math, which built their confidence and has lead to their becoming self-motivated learners in the subject.

What has made my own children’s math journey so successful? They have the basic arithmetic skills down pat - which allows them to understand mathematical concepts quickly and easily. They know that math is an important part of everyday life and see role models who use math on a regular basis. They’ve overcome their fear of the “scary symbols” and realize that the language of mathematics is not as difficult as it first appears. Having been exposed to interesting math concepts like Fibonacci, Phi and infinite series at a young age, they learned early that math is more than arithmetic worksheets. Our home is full of math resources that make practice fun. This is the base of knowledge that helps them have confidence with the subject.

So what do we do when our child is on the wrong math track? It’s even more difficult than starting from scratch because you have to overcome their negativity and rebuild their self-esteem. Here are 10 ways to make math fun again!:

1. Start by letting them know that you are there to be their coach. You are proud of all their accomplishments together you and your child will overcome any challenge.

2. Remove the competition by taking them away from any group situation to work on their own. Find a special time and place to work on math in a relaxed atmosphere.

3. Explain the importance of learning the basics and building a “math force.” Your “math force” is the basic understanding of numbers and arithmetic that holds together all the concepts and skills learned later on.

4. Explain that everyone can be good at math – it’s just about spending the time and relearning the basics. Convince your child that he or she CAN do it.

5. Assess your child’s current level of math skills, and then help him set attainable goals. Make a list together of all the tasks needed to achieve those goals. Remember, a goal is only a dream until you have outlined a way to achieve it.

6. Revisit methods to help make learning easier such as memorization skills, diagramming concepts and using manipulatives. Graph paper works wonders! Get a good book that explains concepts well.

7. Play games and music to reinforce basic times tables, addition, subtraction and division. Have the whole family re-learn them together so that everyone can answer simple facts with speedy recall.

8. Find ways to inspire math and make your lessons more interesting such as music, games, puzzles, tricks, books and crafts.

9. Learn about the history of math and how it evolved. Seek out role models from history and the present to help reinforce the importance of math.

10. Show your child that mathematics is much more than arithmetic.

Have fun and don’t forget to use your imagination to enjoy mathematics!

“Many who have never had an opportunity of knowing any more about mathematics confuse it with arithmetic, and consider it an arid science. In reality, however, it is a science which requires a great amount of imagination.”
Sonya Kovalevsky


Great terms to check on the internet to start your mathematic exploration:

Mobius Strip
Archimedean Spiral
Brachistochrone Path
The Game of Nim
Pythagorean Triplets
Tower of Hanoi
Magic Squares
Golden Rectangle
Napier’s Bones
Zeno’s Paradox
Konigsberg Bridge
Magnetic North
Ada Byron
Chaos Theory
and we mustn’t forget
our favourite number –