Seven tips to motivate your child to learn maths
Sometimes it’s hard for kids to see the point of maths. As parents we know how a good foundation in maths will make life easier for our children in the future, but when you’re 9 years old and struggling to learn multiplication tables “the future” sounds so far off that it can be hard to keep trying.
This is where you come in. You are your child’s biggest supporter, cheerleader and inspiration as they learn, so we’ve put together this handy list of seven ways to help you motivate your child at maths.
1. Praise effort not ability
Being rewarded for effort makes kids more able to deal with problems and use them as learning experiences. It builds resilience, a quality that keeps them trying to improve - arguably this is more valuable than having talent alone. On the flip side, kids who are rewarded for being ‘smart’ are more vulnerable to setbacks and tend to avoid taking risks or trying things for fear of failure. Research has shown that once children see ability as something they have the potential to change, they are motivated to persevere at things they find difficult.
2. Point out progress
If you break big goals down into manageable chunks, you’ll enable your children to see what they’ve achieved, even if they haven’t yet reached their final goal. This way, you can show them how far they’ve come and the things they have managed to get to grips with, which is hugely motivating in itself.
3. Be on their side.
Channel your inner 7-year-old, or 9-year-old, or whatever. With so much learning to do, not just with regards to school but sports, activities and life skills in general, the task of being a child can sometimes feel overwhelming. Can you imagine how much better it would feel if someone was on your side?
Children work better when they think they’re part of a group, so get on your kid’s team! If your child has hit a wall, there's nothing wrong with sitting down and working out the solution together. Use language like ‘let’s’ and ‘we’ to make your child feel like you’re in it together and help drive them to keep trying.
4. Be organised
Make homework time as easy as possible by having everything required for your child's study session gathered and ready to go. Nothing can sap motivation like the distraction of having to tear the house apart looking for the one they need to get started.
5. Be patient and consistent
Learning is a slow process - a marathon rather than a sprint. Every learner will get stuck, in fact, the world's top mathematicians spend most of the careers being stuck. It's what happens next that's important and your patience and consistency is key to allowing your learner to develop the resilience to keep trying.
6. Make it real
Children are more likely to remember and understand what they’ve learned when they’ve applied maths to something they’re interested in and can use in their lives. And as maths is all around us, this is easier to do than you may think, once you make it a habit.
So, when you’re dividing up a cake or pizza, or sharing out treats/toys, or working out discounts at the supermarket, think about how you can find the maths in what you’re doing and link it to what your child is learning in school. (This animation has some more ideas for how you can do this at home).
7. Get enthused
This can be tricky, particularly if you don't feel too positive about maths yourself.
However, if you can inject a good dose of optimism into the way you and your child approach maths, it will stand them in good stead. Research suggests that optimists are better at coping with problems and learning lessons as a result. So, if you can manage to be positive about maths you’ll be setting your child up for success.
Throughout January, we are focusing on maths motivation. Join us on Facebook or Twitter for daily motivation tips, inspiration and resources.
I’m Ged, Co-founder of Komodo, ex-maths teacher and dad. If you have any questions please get in touch.
About Komodo – Komodo is a fun and effective way to boost primary maths skills. Designed for 5 to 11 year olds to use in the home, Komodo uses a little and often approach to learning maths (15 minutes, three to five times per week) that fits into the busy family routine. Komodo helps users develop fluency and confidence in maths – without keeping them at the screen for long.