Let the numbers come alive

National Mathematics Day
Last Updated 22 December 2020, 17:13 IST

Right from grocery shopping to complex calculations in data science, mathematics holds extensive relevance in our daily lives.

It is crucial to create a learning environment to make students fall in love with the subject. Teachers and parents can get creative and implement some of these simple yet effective ways to make children active, self-initiated maths learners.

Visual learning

When students learn visually, their conceptual understanding and retention are higher. Studies show that children learn a mathematical concept better when they visualise it. As early as five or six years of age, when they begin to count using fingers, visual learning gets stimulated.

Hence, from a tender age, it is crucial to encourage visual learning for students to embrace and understand maths more effectively. For instance, fractions can be taught more effectively by splitting a pizza or having an explainer video that shows how parts make a whole. As today’s children are digital natives, you may access online learning platforms that have animations, interactive videos to make children visualise and understand concepts in the best possible way.

Game-based learning

Children love to play and parents or teachers can use games to make maths lessons engaging. Beginning at home, parents can play interesting games using dice and flashcards to teach basic sequencing, counting etc. Teachers can also incorporate more complex games in their classes to make maths lessons more engaging.

Educational games foster active learning, which enhances conceptual understanding. They are more interactive and student-led, generating better learning outcomes, especially in a subject like mathematics.

Encouraging children to learn through games makes them explore and craft their own learning path. Besides, games motivate children to perform and learn better.

In today’s world, leveraging the power of tech, digital educational games can be an effective way to combine studies and play.

Real-life examples

Applying mathematical concepts to everyday life makes it more relatable. Students learn better when they understand why they learn a certain concept and its impact on their daily lives.

Some common ways are to make children add up the grocery bill or budget the monthly expenses. Each time they calculate the price per unit, by incorporating percentage discounts, and estimate the final price, they learn multiplication, addition, and percentages too. This approach makes children ask questions and arrive at the answers themselves. We can encourage active and student-led learning and nourish their interest.

Maths trips

Although the scope is limited these days because of the pandemic, maths trips are an effective way to kinder students’ interest in the subject.

Occasionally teachers and parents can take children on trips and let them explore how maths is all around them. For instance, students can measure the volume of different objects and look for geometric patterns. Trips to the bank or the restaurant etc. can help students understand several concepts of money management, ratio, proportion etc.

These trips are a form of experiential learning that remains longer in a child’s memory. While we continue to study at home, we can explore virtual maths trips or engage in role-playing too.

Collaborative learning

It is no secret that group learning improves critical thinking and problem-solving skills. When students are involved in activity-based collaborative learning, it stimulates self-initiated active learning and encourages children to put their heads together to solve a problem.

With online learning gaining prominence, students can collaborate through digital platforms to solve a complex activity-based maths problem. Teachers can organise virtual team quizzes and projects to keep the students engaged and foster team players and active learners.

(The author is a teacher and chief strategy officer at an EdTech Company)

(Published 22 December 2020, 00:30 IST)

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