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3 WAYS TO ENSURE YOUR CHILD APPLIES MATHS IN REAL LIFE

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

A common subject that haunts most students is Mathematics, but it can be enjoyed by students once parents and teachers normalize the usage of maths in routine activities. Venkata Vinay, Academic Lead of IMAX Program by ClassKlap, writes how.

Raghu is a grade 4 child. He can recite the tables till 20, forwards and backwards. But when he goes to a grocery store with his parents, where he has to put the multiplication table to use he is clueless. He struggles to understand what to do to calculate the cost of 12 apples at 20 rupees each. As the store owner looks at Raghu, his embarrassed parent tries to help Raghu, but often in vain.

Swati, a grade 3 child, is given 10 rupees by her parent to buy 3 eclairs costing 2 rupees each. She is delighted to lay her hands on the chocolates. At the counter, the shopkeeper casually asks her how much he has to give her back. Swati shrugs her shoulders and says, ‘I don’t know’.

These are not isolated incidents. To most children, mathematics is what happens on the board, in the class and in the test. Depending on how the teacher deals with their struggle to comprehend, they either work to solve the problems or resolve to stay away from the world of mathematics.

In his article on ‘The Importance of Real Life Connections to Math’, Kirk Savage says that it is no longer a good enough answer to say – “That is the rule – memorize it.” In order to ensure that this does not happen in class, children should be exposed to concrete experiences of the concepts of mathematics. Then, and only then, will they be able to make meaningful connections which result in durable learning.

This is where the parent has a major responsibility, especially in the primary years, when he or she can bring numbers to life.  The reason is simple: it is mostly with the parent that the child experiences the real world, be it a visit to the shopping mall or measuring flour to make chapattis or counting coins and notes to buy a toy.

Here are 3 ways in which parents can help children make the vital connection between Mathematics and the real world.

The Grocery Store
Whenever Ravi visits the grocery store, he makes it a point to take his 10-year-old daughter with him. He gives her the money and the grocery list. He tells her that she has to buy the items and that he will help her.

His daughter carries a pencil and paper with her and works out the cost of each item and then the total cost. She also finds out how much she will get in return from the store. Ravi says that he started initially with small numbers and over time moved to bigger amounts. He is proud that his daughter loves the math of shopping and to add to it, that the entire experience has built so much confidence in her.

The Kitchen
6-year-old Abhi likes helping his mother and father in the kitchen. They give him challenges to do while helping his parents. They ask him to get 6 tomatoes, 3 chillies, and 4 potatoes. When his father cuts the vegetables, Abhi has to count the number of pieces and remember them. Then while having the food together, his parents will ask him to recall the number of pieces he counted of a particular vegetable. What Abhi’s parents are doing is not an easy task. However, it is very beneficial to him. He will begin to see a magical world filled with meaningful numbers.

The Kiddy Bank
When 8-year-old Rakesh asked his mother to buy him his favorite toy, she helped him find out its price. It was 100 rupees. She told him that together they will save money for the toy. They agreed to put money in a Kiddy Bank. At the end of each day, she gave him a few coins. Rakesh kept a sort of ‘passbook’ where he noted
the money he deposited in the Kiddy Bank. For over two months Rakesh continued saving, adding and subtracting. In the process, he not only learnt the important fundamentals of mathematics but also significant basics of financial literacy.

In addition to these 3 ways, there are dozens of other ways in which we use mathematics in our everyday lives. Some of them are more evident and some are less common. But we must remember that mathematics is an invaluable skillset which we need in order to survive in this world. As Ruth Christensen writes, ‘we all use math in everyday applications whether we're aware of it or not. If you look hard enough, you'll see math emerge from some of the most unlikely places.’

And there is no better person to help children on this journey than you, the parent!

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