Monday, December 22, 2014

Math Can Be Fun!



Math is not something I find easy to understand and this book gave me ways of playing with the challenges to make them FUN. The author is informed, insightful and best of all, loves math and solving problems, all kinds I especially liked the encouragement she gives not just to students but to the parents and teachers who might not feel competent in math YET. ~ Review by bonni stover

Math Can Be Fun!

Guest article by Michele Williams, Ph.D

There is nothing more rewarding than helping children begin to believe in their math abilities. I've been tutoring for a long time, but that "Oh, I get it!" moment is still special to me. Most of the parents of the students I have tutored over the years wanted to help their children do better in math, but the process became at least as frustrating for them as it was for their kids.

My goal is to show kids and their parents that math can be fun. I use as many visual, auditory, tactile and kinesthetic (movement) activities as possible in every tutoring session, and I've compiled my favorite approaches in a book called Math Can Be Fun: A Parent's Guide to Engaging Kids in Math. The ideas are practical and easy to implement, and I've used them with students from 9 to 16 years of age.

The first hurdle for many kids in learning math is the "I can't do math" mindset. It can be a real challenge to overcome, but there is always a way. I use a simple approach that is backed up by a lot of psychology research. You can learn about it on my web site.

Okay, now let's talk about having fun with math. Here are a few of the ideas that I share in my book.
Use a whiteboard: The whiteboard is an all-purpose tool. With it and a variety of markers, you can: draw pictures to represent word problems; draw groups of sodas or dogs or cars to figure out addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division problems; keep score during a hot game of fractions dominoes; and any number of other activities.

Customize the experience: There is no end to the ways you can make math problems relevant to your child. Start by making a list of your child's interests. Then, as you set out to explain a concept, think of how you might incorporate one of these interests.

Make it active: When you incorporate singing, rapping, clapping, dancing, or tactile activities into each homework session, your child will actually forget that he is learning because he'll be having fun.

Give them rewards: I don't think there is a person on the planet who doesn't appreciate being acknowledged for effort given, so be generous with the kudos. These can include: stickers (metallic, Sponge Bob, dogs, horses, Disney characters, ...), an enthusiastic "High five!," pizza for dinner, pick of the family movie, or, really, anything!

These are just a subset of the activities I use to make learning math a fun experience. And if you incorporate some of these ideas into each homework session, you'll soon discover that homework becomes less stressful. Give it a try -- and let me know how it goes!

T. Curnow, the mother of a middle-school student, said, "This is a perfect guide for any parent struggling to help their child in math."

Math Can Be Fun!


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