Meaningful Parenting- Making 'peace' with Maths not necessarily 'Mathematically Happy'. Part 2

Not necessarily you have to enjoy it. But being at peace with it is important.

Are students who are good at Math intelligent? Yes.
Are students who are not good at Math intelligent? Yes.

Over the years, child development researchers have studied Intelligence and come up with various kinds of intelligence, and Mathematical Ability is JUST ONE OF THEM.

IQ - Intelligent Quotient-is related to long-term life success but in which field- depends on you. Research does indicate that childhood IQ predicts academic achievement as well as adult occupational achievement. There is a strong likelihood of 2nd-grade children with the highest IQs enter prestigious professions such as engineering, law, medicine, and science. (McCall 1977). This was 1977. We are in 2017.

The definitions have changed so have the occupations children choose when they grow up. The opportunities have increased manifold, and success is no longer measured by engineering, law, medicine, and science professions. There are an enormous wealth of career opportunities to choose from now, each appealing to the 'uniqueness' within you. Each satisfying and monetarily rewarding. 


Math but cannot be ignored at least till a particular grade level. It's part of a mandatory subject, and while you may not really ace it, the attempt should be to not hate it either. Not to forget that real life does involve Math too. It won't be a good idea to not learn Math at all.


It has to relate to you.

Have you ever noticed that any kind of information you can relate with is better absorbed, understood, and remembered?

The same goes for Math. If it doesn't make common sense, if you can’t relate to it with your everyday life, it's challenging to grasp.

Theories can be memorized and produced later, but mathematical concept requires understanding and cannot be produced by rote memory.

PRESCHOOL YEARS- Make Mathematics fun and part of regular life. At this age, all that children seek is FUN, and introducing Math as 'PLAYFUL FUN' is the responsibility of the teacher at school and parents at home.

Teachers-------- am sure are doing similar work at preschools. If not, then it’s time to redesign what you are teaching and how you are teaching. They need to help the child understand the concept as part of everyday life. Craft activities play activities, classroom activities can all be designed to make ‘Math’ a part of life for them.

Parents------- Play, Laugh and Learn with your child - My failure with Math made me very cautious of how I wanted to approach Math with my toddler. By two, he knew all his numbers till 100. I introduced the numbers through Rote memory for sure while we counted cars that passed by during stroller rides. I counted the number of grapes he ate. I counted everything, and for him, 'counting' was normal and fun.  I counted the socks when putting them in the drawer, counted the number of trees that we saw while on a walk. While waiting at the restaurant table, I kept the gadget away.  I counted the spoons and forks and played 'give and take away games' with him.

By now  (he just turned 4 a few days back), he knows counting till 1000 with some prompts, writing till 100, addition, subtraction, greater than, lesser than, equal to, ascending order, and descending order.

Am I racing and 'being competitive'- NO.
Am I trying to cover up for my failures? NO
Do I want him to give an edge in his class? NO

Because he doesn't know this as 'Math.'  To him, these are games to play with his abacus, with his glitter pens, sketch pens, crayons, blocks, beads, and sheets- Games when it’s snowing outside, games while waiting for Daddy to return from work, etc.

Do I want him to ace Math and project him as gifted? NO.
I want him to be at 'peace ' with Math and choose his own 'calling ' in life.

SCHOOL GOING YEARS- That's when not everything can be done playfully.

For the child
  • Do not move on until the concept is crystal clear. And I mean crystal clear only. Math builds on these concepts. And if the foundation has gone awry, there is little one can do about it.
  • Don't hesitate to ask for help- Teacher/Parent/Tutor- If you still don't understand, discuss it with your parents and look for additional help where you can get it. Indeed, a class's progress cannot be halted because of one student. It’s equally true that one student needs additional help. Discuss with school authorities and see what can be done.

For the Parent 
  • Most concepts, whether fractions, decimals, profit and loss, area and perimeter, can be effectively understood if applied to real-life and explained. Parents have an essential role to play here. Shopping receipts can make an exciting example of learning many concepts. Use it. Please help your child understand Simple Interest, Compound Interest by involving him in bank-related activities that you do. It’s never too early. The explanation, though, has to be age-appropriate.
  • Do not compare either with yourself or his friends or siblings. It’s a conscious choice.

  • Positive Reinforcement for little progress for children who struggle their way through. Saying - "It’s so simple. Why can’t you understand?" is just so not done. It’s not always possible that everyone understands the same way.
  • Respect your child's capabilities and interests- He may still not be comfortable with Math. THAT'S OK. Not necessarily Math as a subject can be everybody's interest. And that is absolutely fine. Your effort is not to make him love Math. Your effort is not to make him hate Math or become Math phobic or any other subject for that matter. A phobia is debilitating.

Try for sure but if it doesn't interest your child, make a conscious choice not to make him feel guilty or 'less intelligent; or his friend 'more intelligent.' Let him choose his vocation.

Remember- What choices you make go a long way in determining choices he will make in life. You choose positivity, and there is a greater likelihood of him choosing positivity.  Left to itself, a lot of negativity creeps in without our knowledge. “It’s not me.”

Above All-------------Be mindful of what you say to your child -  Parents try to empathize by saying, “I was never good at math,” or “Math’s was so tough, I always hated it,” but it is not helpful. Instead, encourage kids to embrace the challenge. Who knows, in helping your child, you land up helping yourself as you begin to understand those concepts that were a nightmare.

What will it do now? It will help you feel better and positive. Isn’t it worth a try, then?

Click on the link to read Part 1 of the Math-o-phobia.


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