I wouldn’t take as much pride in winning a gold medal as I do in losing a competition against my 6-year old!! And especially when it’s a ‘mental maths’ competition!!
It gets me beaming with pride when each time, my little guy, correctly and very quickly answers a series of mathematics questions thrown at us by my husband…while I just stand there amazed and a wee bit embarrassed…for losing miserably!!
But deep down, I am beyond happy and content. I feel like all the hard work is paying off. Also, I feel that this is God’s way of telling me that as a homeschooling team, my son and I are pretty much on track.
When we set off on our homeschooling journey in May 2020, Viraaj (5 years old at that time), was nowhere close to even being fond of maths or numbers. He was a big fan of reading storybooks but ‘numbers’ did not fascinate him just as much!
Honestly, one of my homeschooling goals has always been that he should enjoy Maths! 3 months and a whole lot of fun strategies later, he took a strong liking to the subject. And then there was no looking back!
Mathematics had always been my topmost favorite subject in school. Unlike most people, there was nothing ‘scary’ about Maths for me.
In fact, I truly believed the only ‘fun’ factor about studies was mathematics! It’s been a year and a half of our homeschooling journey now and I can clearly see history repeat itself!
My son thinks maths is the most fun subject ever and is always eagerly looking forward to our daily 1 hour of practice. So much so, that even bedtime stories have now made way for some extensive problem-solving sessions!
In this article, I am sharing a few useful tips and also my method of teaching maths to my little one. I will be really glad if It can help anyone of you reading this even a tiny bit.
For every new topic that I introduce him to in Maths, this is how I proceed:
Stage 1: 100% Clarity Of Concepts
Until this isn’t achieved, I just do not move on to the next step. Maths is a subject that builds on itself. I totally believe that when it comes to Maths, if one does not fully comprehend a certain concept, it gets harder to understand the next.
This makes it very important to ensure that the child is absolutely on board with one concept before moving on to the next.
For this stage, I do not fix myself a time period. Sometimes it may take just a day or two for him to grasp the concept and sometimes it may take a week or more.
I just ensure I don’t rush him at all. Unlike school, I am not time-bound to finish a certain topic. I can move at the pace that suits my little one. (It’s not without reason that I am such an ardent fan of homeschooling!)
I use simple, basic, fun ways to introduce the concept to him, and then both of us, together, work out a lot of simple problems based on that particular concept. This stage goes on until the day he confidently tells me he can solve similar problems all by himself!
Stage 2: A Whole Lot Of Practice
This stage goes on for around 2 weeks. Every day I give him 10-15 problems based on the newly-learned concept, that he needs to solve all by himself.
Of course, he knows, that if he gets stuck anywhere, I will be more than happy to help. Within this time period of 2 weeks, I gradually keep increasing the difficulty levels of these problems.
This stage is usually my favorite because it’s amazing to watch his confidence level shoot up with each passing day!
By the end of this 2-week period, it’s an absolute pleasure watching him solve those problems with utmost ease…most of the times while humming a song!! And that’s when I exactly know that my boy is all set to move to the next stage.
Stage 3: Speed It Up
This is the stage where I time him. I do this for almost 10 days. So if he starts by solving 30 problems (based on that particular concept) in an hour’s time on Day 1, it comes down to 40 minutes by day 10!
This stage happens to be Viraaj’s favorite! He absolutely loves competing with the ‘timer’ and effortlessly defeats it every single time!
Things To Remember
Also, there are some important points that you must keep in mind to ensure your child always stays excited about Maths:
1. Do not stop practicing the older topics as you move ahead. This is especially important in the case of younger kids (Grade 1, Grade 2, Grade 3).
Your child’s daily math exercise should consist of a good mix of everything – problems based on the old as well as problems based on the newly learned concepts.
2. Try making Maths as fun and engaging as you can by using techniques based on your child’s likes, dislikes, interests, and prior knowledge.
Also, try bringing in a little bit of maths even when it’s not studying time. For instance, if your child is into sports then counting the number of goals or adding up the total number of runs while you are watching a game together could be a good idea.
Counting money, telling the time, calculating distances, checking the grocery bills are also some math-related activities that appeal to children. I actually used the currency from the board game ‘Monopoly‘ to make ‘addition’ and ‘subtraction’ seem like so much more fun.
Also, if you allow your child to have some screen time then you could ensure they use most of it for games and apps that help teach mathematics concepts.
3. Never say things like ‘I was never good at Maths’ or ‘I always struggled with Maths’ in front of your children, even if that’s the truth! Hearing words like these from the parents creates unnecessary fear and doubts about Maths in the minds of the children.
This is called ‘maths anxiety‘ and sadly, it’s contagious! So, you must watch your words! Right from the beginning, tell your child that Maths is just like a fun game.
Tell them about the relevance of Maths and numbers in our day-to-day life. Also, try displaying some enthusiasm and confidence towards Maths…fake it if it’s needed!
4. Include some amount of Maths practice every day in your homeschooling sessions. Studies prove that having a routine in place works out to be very beneficial, both, for the child and the home educator. And from my personal experience, I can totally vouch for this too.
With a routine in place, the child knows the expectations and very soon gets accustomed to them. In my case, my son is quite used to the 1-hour math practice every day. Let alone complaining, he actually keeps waiting for it while we are doing the other subjects for the day!
For those who’d like to know, our homeschooling schedule is planned for a 6-day week with 2.5 hours of studying each day. And since, ‘proficiency in maths’ features as one of my top homeschooling goals, out of these 2.5 hours, we dedicate 1 hour to solving problems each day.
I prepare his daily maths questions/exercises on my own, based on the CBSE syllabus. He would’ve been in Grade 1 now but thanks to his hard work and dedication, he’s already covered the entire Maths syllabus of Grade 2 too!
- ALLEN Skool Plus- Workbooks for Class 1: This set contains just workbooks for Grade 1. Subjects included are English, Maths, Science, General Knowledge, and Logical Reasoning.
- International Mathematics Olympiad Work Book -Class 1
Be it your job, career, parenting, homeschooling, or just about any other aspect of life…love, patience, and hard work can absolutely change things around, and HOW!
Today, my 6 – year old is a fiery little mathematician who’s a whole lot better, quicker, and more confident than any grown-up around him! Yeah!! And I am a die-hard fan!