Math is a subject that many students find difficult to learn in school, primarily because of the stigma attached to it. However, it is not so different as English or science, or any other subject, for that matter.
Still, if your child feels quite challenged studying the subject, you should find ways to help him. Aside from enrolling him in advanced learning programs, online math classes – like the ones used in place of face-to-face learning in countries stricken by the COVID-19 pandemic – can be quite useful, too.
To make the most of the available online tutors, you must figure out how you can contribute to your child’s education. This article can help you learn the ways of online math classes and what you can do to support your child’s learning of the subject.
Understand How Online Teachers Do It
Virtual and classroom classes have the same goal: to teach children the knowledge and skills they would need in the future. However, the means to achieve a similar aim are not quite the same.
There are obvious differences, of course. Where face-to-face tutoring requires blackboards and papers inside a classroom, virtual classrooms need webcams, headphones, and Internet connection.
Although online teachers will still need to multitask, the specific circumstances will not be the same, either. Where they speak while writing on the board in a classroom setup, they teach while checking for text chat and live feed comments to watch out for “raised hands” during a virtual class.
Beyond that, online teachers also employ different teaching methods to ensure that the children are paying attention and can digest the knowledge they are receiving from lessons. Plus, they must also figure out ways to get a feel of their students’ progress, all while knowing how to work on a computer and troubleshooting any technical problems that may arise.
Help Your Child Learn Math: 5 Tips for Parents
Now that you understand how online classes generally work, it is time to do your part. To effectively help your child learn mathematics, here are five tips teachers offer parents:
1. Speak of math positively
Because of the notoriety of the subject, people don’t hesitate to express their dislike of math or admit that they are not good at it. While unintentional, such statements tend to convey a message to students that this is fine. However, doing so may have a negative effect on your child’s attitude towards learning the subject.
According to academics, students who hear their parents say that they don’t like math and other similar comments tend to build resistance to learning the subject as they grow older. This kind of behavior can end up making your child halt any effort to study math and drop out of the class as soon as possible. When this happens, his options later during adulthood will become limited.
To avoid this, parents must display a positive attitude towards mathematics.
Instead of shrugging it off because it is too hard, you should teach your child to adopt a “growth mindset.” Teach him to acknowledge the challenge math presents and understand that, while difficult, learning it is not impossible. Instead of saying, “I can’t do it,” use encouraging words like “let’s work on it together.”
2. Encourage questions
It is often said that a child who asks questions is a smart one. This has been proven time and again in different situations and now in mathematics as well.
In a survey conducted by Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) on over 400 high school math teachers in the United States, 66 percent reported that the best advice they can ever give for students having a hard time with math is to ask for clarifications. Aside from paying attention in class, asking for more information can help students better understand the subject.
Fortunately, it is much easier to ask questions in virtual classes. A direct message to the teacher not only provides a comprehensive means for clarification (complete with visual aids), but it can also serve as a resource he can refer to in the future.
3. Emphasize concept over procedure
Solving equations and math problems is a bit like learning in an online class and a classroom learning setup. There are several ways to arrive at the same answer, but each method is different and not equally easy to understand. This is the very reason why you must encourage your child to understand the concept rather than memorize the procedure.
In the same survey from SIAM, 75 percent of all respondents said that students should understand math concepts and when they can be applied instead of just memorizing the formulas they are taught. This makes it easier for them to solve math problems, even if they are presented differently.
4. Know what math he’s currently learning
Different math concepts are taught to students at varying levels of learning. To ensure that the help you’re offering your child in his studies will be effective, you must first know what specific math he is learning about.
To do so, try to access your child’s curriculum or talk to his teacher about it. Not only will this help you offer the right kind of support (i.e., preparing the right tools or play-based math practice), but it will also help you manage your expectations of what your child would be able to do.
Once you have this down, you can help find learning materials online to supplement his virtual classes. There are apps that can also foster a love for math in a fun and educational manner.
5. Incorporate math in his daily life
While you may not notice it, math is everywhere and in everything you do. It is actually quite useful in your daily life. This means you can incorporate math into your daily activities and conversations with your child.
For instance, you can have him help you measure, convert, multiply, and divide ingredients in a baking recipe. This will not only teach him how to prepare good pastries and baked goods but also help him learn fractions, measurements, and conversions.
You can also talk about math with your youngster when you go shopping. Make a bit of a competition out of it and see who can present the closest estimation of the sum of your grocery bill. You can also have him calculate the amount of change you’ll be left with after the task is done.
The Bottom Line
Teaching mathematics to children is a constant challenge, be it in a virtual classroom or an actual one. Make sure that you are prepared to assist in your child’s studies with the tips presented in this article and figure out what you can do to make online learning more effective.
Maloy Burman is the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Premier Genie FZ LLC. He is responsible for driving Premier Genie into a leadership position in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Education space in Asia, Middle East and Africa and building a solid brand value. Premier Genie is currently running 5 centers in Dubai and 5 centers in India with a goal to multiply that over the next 5 years.