How parents can encourage maths learning in children

by Ramya Manoharan | Aug 16, 2017

Teaching kids maths

Maths is everywhere and everyone can be good at it. We can help children to feel confident and delighted with mathematical concepts by recognising those times when maths ideas can be utilised and encouraged.

Develop a ‘can do’ attitude

The first step is to build a ‘can do’ attitude to maths. Sheree Mader, principal of Saddleworth Primary School in South Australia and recipient of the 2016 ASG National Excellence in Teaching Award, says: “I think the way a lot of students view maths reflects the viewpoint of their parents, so work hard on developing a growth mindset with kids.” 

This means that you will have to make a conscious attempt to avoid making comments such as “I was never very good at maths,” and instead use everyday objects and experiences to introduce basic mathematical concepts. 

In their recent article in The Conversation, Monash University’s Sivanes Phillipson, Associate Professor in Education and Family Research, and Ann Gervasoni, Associate Professor in Numeracy, say, “This mathematical knowledge developed before school is predictive of literacy and numeracy achievements in later grades.”

They have 11 suggestions for parents to encourage maths in early learning:

1) Comparing objects and describing which is longer, shorter, heavier, or holds less.
2) Playing with and describing 2D shapes and 3D objects.
3) Describing where things are positioned, for example, north, outside, behind, opposite.
4) Describing, copying, and extending patterns found in everyday situations.
5) Using time-words to describe points in time, events and routines (including days, months, seasons and celebrations).
6) Comparing and talking about the duration of everyday events and the sequence in which they occur.
7) Saying number names forward in sequence to ten (and eventually to 20 and beyond).
8) Using numbers to describe and compare collections.
9) Using perceptual and conceptual subitising (recognising quantities based on visual patterns), counting and matching to compare the number of items in one collection with another.
10) Showing different ways to make a total (at first with models and small numbers).
11) Matching number names, symbols and quantities up to ten.

“Most importantly, encouraging maths and numeracy in young children relies on making it appealing and relevant to them,’ say Phillipson and Gervasoni, in their article. This is also an engaging way to help children start developing an early interest in science and technology-related or STEM subjects. 

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