Kids often have several misconceptions about math facts. Here are some of the most common ones and suggestions for how you can address them.
Misconception #1: Math Facts are Boring.
Probably one of the biggest misconceptions you will ever hear from kids about math facts knowledge. This is especially true of children who are tech-savvy. Why spend time memorizing math facts when you can find the answers to everything online with your smartphone or use the calculator and get the solution in seconds?
The reality, of course, is that math facts can be a part of anything exciting. Whether you’re following a map to solve a mystery or keeping track of scores for your favorite sports team, you’ll find math facts in many heart-pounding situations!
It’s just that the task of memorizing itself can seem tedious and uninteresting to children. For instance, the old-fashioned times table poster or flash cards to stare at. Many kids (and adults) find that boring.
So to make math facts learning more engaging for your children, try putting it into an exciting context, such as saving for a toy or planning an outing. Also use games and other activities to make math facts more interactive and enjoyable. A good example is the math facts adventure game MathRider!
Misconception #2: Math Facts Fluency is only about Memorizing the Answers to Equations.
While memorizing math facts is important, it’s also important for kids to understand the underlying concepts and how the facts relate to one another.
Encourage kids to think about the relationships between numbers and operations, and to use their understanding of these relationships to help them remember math facts.
Your child needs to develop what’s called number sense. It’s the conceptual understanding of how numbers work with each other and how they apply in real life.
So if your kids are fretting that practicing their math means hours of memorization and tedium, bring in relevance of why they are learning these facts.
For instance, you can give your kids real-life tasks that they can tackle only with the help of math (e.g., “Here’s some money. Now go choose and buy candies from that store that’ll be enough for about 50 kids on Halloween trick-or-treating… but still be within that budget.”). They’ll be motivated to do the math for real-life problem-solving!
Misconception #3: Some Kids are just Naturally Good at Math Facts, while I am not.
Of all the misconceptions about math facts that kids can develop, this one is the saddest for us parents (and educators) to hear. Many kids believe that some people are just naturally better at math facts than others — which of course makes some kids believe they’re inherently not good at math and won’t even try.
Nothing could be further from the truth. While some people may be faster at calculations, most of us can learn to be a competent math user. With practice and the right strategies, we can improve our math fact fluency.
If you find your children harbor negative feelings about their ability to master math, praise them for their efforts. Tell them they aren’t failures for not being perfect. Encourage them to keep practicing regularly, and let them know they are supposed to make mistakes. That’s how we know we are learning.
Any subject gets easier with practice. Think of walking or learning how to speak English. Nobody was born and instantly knew how to request for a change of nappies!
Remind them that if something seems too big and difficult, breaking the task down into smaller chunks will make it feel a lot easier. For example, just master the times table for the number 2 first. Don’t worry about 6 or 7 just yet.
Misconception #4: Math Facts are only for School
Since they are taught at school, rehearsed at school and graded at school, kids may think that math facts are only useful at school. However, math facts are an essential part of daily life.
It’s not just for exciting projects or scientific discoveries! Everything we do in daily life, from counting the money we need to buy this week’s supplies to measuring ingredients for a recipe for tonight’s dinner, has math in it. And math facts are at the very core of it all.
To help your kids see the everyday, real-world applications of math facts, let them participate in tasks or chores around the house that will require them to put their math skills to the test. If they do a good job in something that benefits them, they will feel they’ve come one step closer to being grown up. That will motivate them to learn their math facts better.
Cheer your Kids on!
Overall, it’s important to make learning math facts fun and engaging for your kids. Make it a positive experience for them and their minds and hearts will be more open to learning math instead of being intimidated by it.
Be there to praise and cheer them on, each time they try their best. That’s how they’ll come to understand math’s underlying concepts. They’ll appreciate the real-world applications of math facts and see their importance.