Many students dread working with math and have trouble finding the fun in it. As a self-professed “math nerd,” I’m here to tell you that mathematics can be incredibly rewarding and fun when it’s done right! Whether you’re a parent who wants to help a young child find joy in learning or a college student who wants to find a job in the STEM field after graduation, there are many ways you can utilize fun and approachable tactics to take the stress out of math.
Fortunately, there are many things you can do to ensure that math isn’t so intimidating. For kids, it’s largely about turning equations into real-world applications they can relate to. For instance, counting games are great for younger kids because they’re easy to apply to just about any situation. You can play these games with your child at the grocery store while you’re shopping instead of sitting him down at the kitchen table to sweat it out.
Keep reading for some great tips on how to get started.
Mix Up Some Fun in the Kitchen
Kids love to cook and bake; it’s a fun activity that allows for a little mess and ends with a yummy payoff. You can incorporate math into the kitchen fun by using measuring cups, conversion charts, and recipes to help your child utilize what they’ve learned in a real-world situation. Have her measure out the ingredients according to the recipe, and ask her to make changes according to how many people are eating. This is a great way to introduce fractions.
Be Intentional About Screen Time
Contrary to popular belief, screen time can be a valuable tool in helping people of all ages learn. From new languages to math skills, apps and online games use technology to turn learning into a game students actually want to play. Skill-building math games with virtual prizes engage kids of all ages in a way that helps them learn, practice, and remember key concepts. As an added bonus, many of these resources can be accessed completely free of charge from a phone, tablet, or computer.
Present a Problem They’ll Love to Solve
Your home is the one place your child knows intimately, so use it to your advantage. Talk about what might be improved in your house, and present the problem to your child as something they can use design to solve. For instance, if your kitchen or bathroom is low on space, have your child think about storage solutions that will keep things from getting cluttered. Have her measure and take notes, and collaborate on the solution so you can bring it to life.
You can also incorporate fun subjects into useful tools, such as creating a puppy graph. This will help your student learn about charting on the x-axis and y-axis in a unique way.
Learning can take a hands-on approach for many kids, so use craft time to your advantage and introduce the “alligator mouth” to little ones who are learning about greater-than and less-than equations, or create your own clock with moveable hands to help him learn how to tell time.
Life After Graduation
If your child is college-age and will be looking for a job in the STEM field after graduation, you can help her prepare by considering the types of interview questions she might face from a potential employer and holding a mock interview. This will allow her to practice what she’ll say, which will, in turn, help prevent anxiety on the big day.
For students of many ages, it’s also a good idea to understand the types of jobs available within the world of mathematics. Even younger children understand the importance of a career, and if you can show them their options, it may help to keep them interested.
“The demand for mathematics experts has grown exponentially in a number of careers—and so has the interest in these jobs. According to the Mathematical Association of America, math professions are becoming increasingly attractive. In fact, mathematician, actuary, and statistician jobs are among the most promising career paths based on their income levels, growth outlook, and low-stress work environments,” reads Learn How to Become.
Making math fun and accessible can be tricky, but it doesn’t have to be stressful. Using these tips, you can help your child find the joy in learning and help take away some of the anxiety they may be feeling at school or after graduation.