Seven Tips for Motivating Your Child to Learn Math
Sometimes it’s hard for kids to see the point of math. As parents we know how a good foundation in math 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 math.
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, it can sometimes feel overwhelming. Can you imagine how much better it would feel to know that 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 organized
Make homework time as easy as possible by having everything you need 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 thing 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 their careers being stuck. It's what happens next that's important and your patience and consistency is key to allowing your child 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 math to something they’re interested in and can use in their lives. And as math 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 cake or pizza, or sharing out treats/toys, or working out the discounts at the supermarket, think about how you can find the math in what you’re doing and link it to what your child is learning in school. (This animation has some ideas for bringing math into the kitchen).
7. Get enthused
We know this can be ticky, particularly if you don't feel too positive about math yourself.
However, if you can inject a good dose of optimism into the way you and your child approach math, 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 math you’ll be setting your child up for success.
About Komodo - Komodo is a fun and effective way to boost K-5 math skills. Designed for 5 to 11 year olds to use in the home, Komodo uses a little and often approach to learning math (15 minutes, three to five times per week) that fits into the busy family routine. Komodo users develop fluency and confidence in math - without spending long periods at the screen.