Inspiring Kids to Love Mathematics
by Pamela Brittain
We learn best when we are inspired!
What are your kids interested in? Is it social media, video games, dance, sports, cooking, nature, reading, streaming video? Does it seem like they have endless energy for one particular passion and no energy left over for their math homework?
Best Ways to Learn Math
Research has shown that people learn best when they are inspired by the subject they are learning. It allows them to really ‘get into’ the subject and retain more of what they have learned. So instead of math being the thing your kids are forced to do before they can get back to whatever really interests them wouldn’t it be great if the mathematics they were learning WAS part of what interested them?
Sadly, for many students, this is rarely the case. Mathematics is typically taught without this inspirational aspect to it. Children are taught facts and figures without context or real world applications.
More than Facts and Figures
Most mathematics is typically taught using a model that shows how to do operations (add, subtract, multiply, divide) on numbers (1, -1, pi) or how to use numbers and equations to solve questions like “how much fence does the farmer need to keep his chickens in the pen?” Because of this, many children don’t see the connections to their world and their interests and many become disinterested in math overall.
But it doesn’t Have to be this Way. In fact, there are few subjects out there that are as wide reaching and far impacting as mathematics; meaning it should be one of the easiest subjects to be inspired by.
Math is all Around Us
Mathematics is found in literally everything from music, art and poetry to engineering, medicine and technology. It is found in nature and science in equal proportions. No matter what a child likes or loves, math can be found in it!
If a child loves to dance there are simple equations that describe the turn of a dancers foot, the amount of force needed to spin or what the rhythm of the music they are dancing to is and how to match it. If they love sports then math is found in what speed is the ball traveling and how fast do you need to run to meet it?
Or maybe nature is their thing. Do they know that trees follow the Fibonacci sequence when they grow, or that sunflowers contain the Golden Ratio in their seeds? How about that plants follow a beautiful and artistic fractal pattern in their roots and leaves?
Do they love video games? What about the math behind programming, or what makes the images appear on their computer or phone screen?
No matter what your child loves there is mathematics in it, it’s just about looking for it.
Math doesn’t have to be a dreaded subject, or a boring one, in fact it can be one of the most exciting and engaging subjects out there. Children can be inspired by the math found all around them by learning how to see it in the things they already love.
Want to help your child succeed in math?
Start with inspiration. Show them how to see math in the world around them and they will be more inclined to learn the foundations of math so they can more fully understand the world around them, and the things they already love, in a whole new way.
Need a bit of help seeing where the math is? Check out LOOK: MATH! where we offer online math courses designed to inspire by showing the mathematics in the world around us! Visit us at lookmath.ca
She has spent the past thirteen years in Education Management, working for various educational centers and programs including the conception, implementation, development, and management of mathematics outreach programs for the Department of Mathematics at the University of Toronto.
Her time with the Math Department showed her a whole new world of mathematics and inspired her to complete a Masters of Mathematics for Teachers (MMT) from the University of Waterloo in order to more fully understand and teach this fascinating and ever-present subject. She is also a certified high school teacher in Ontario with qualifications in Mathematics and Science/Chemistry and will be starting a PhD in Mathematics Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto in fall of 2017.