For the Harvard University professors Bob and Ellen Kaplan, the key to make math not a synonym of suffering for your children is in the way of teaching and facing the subject. The authors of the The Math Circle approach, brought to Brazil by Instituto TIM through O Círculo da Matemática do Brasil, were in Brasília (DF) to carry out a public event about the approach and selected 5 tips for parents to help their children to enhance their performance on the subject and to see the numbers in a way more fun.
1. Teach your child to say “I don’t understand”.
Usually, when a kid doesn’t understand a problem solution, he or she thinks: “My goodness, I don’t know it! They will think I am dumb”. However, knowing how to say “I don’t understand” is extremely important. Teachers like to explain things, but very often kids don’t have this insight. Encourage your child to say politely to the teacher that he/she didn’t understand the content.
2. Help your child to face math as a play.
Math is as fun as arts. Your child must think this way and have pleasure in learning. Help him/her to enjoy math, having fun with his/her classmates and even playing more.
3. Encourage your child to find out his/her answers by himself/herself.
It is necessary to understand that everything in math makes sense and that the parts fit together. Math always says something, has ideas and meanings, it is not just an automatic thing. When the kid finds out that he/she can reach this sense by himself/herself, he/she will see math as a wonderful thing.
4. Look around and urge your child to do the same.
Just look around. “Look” is something that seems easy, but it is not. It is one of the most difficult things that we learn to do, once we already have biases, pre-conceptions of things. When one look in a new and different way around, as it was the first time, we can have an insight, which takes us to other insights. Guide your child to look to things in a totally different way and you will see the result.
5. Encourage your child of wanting to do always the best.
The question is not to be satisfied with what you did. Feel proud of what you performed, but notice, on the next day, that you can do more, you can be better. It is like cooking: you know how to cook, but if you think “I can do better”, you will prepare even more delicious dishes – and it is wonderful when that happens.