Most children are naturally curious and interested in learning new things. Unfortunately, this principle doesn’t always apply with regards to maths! Consequently, to encourage children, teachers need to create methods of learning that make the subject fun.
Bushra Khan, a Kindergarten Teacher at Credence High School in Dubai, explains: “Maths can really be a brain tickling game for children, getting their minds rolling and occupied with fun.
The key thing in early years is to incorporate fun and movement in maths. Kindergarteners love to move! The following are just a few ideas.
- Put positional language into everyday activities. Words like ‘right’, left’, ‘over’, and ‘around’ are used to guide them while establishing cross-curriculum links.
- Simon says: “Simon says take two steps forward and stretch your hands in the air,” and to support this familiar landmarks are used.
- ‘Shape Hunt’ is played to encourage children, taking them around the play area to hunt for the different shapes, whilst looking around for similar objects in the surrounding environment. Students are also encouraged to play hopscotch, whilst learning the missing numbers.”
“Most children usually don’t like maths. Maths is boring. It means solving problems, but learning maths itself is becoming a problem,” says Ramesh Mudgal, Principal at Global Indian International School (GIIS) Dubai Campus. “To get around this, we use real world examples of the applications that we are talking about. As teachers of 21st century learners, we need to incorporate activity-based learning in maths. We teach maths outside the classroom, allowing children to measure or find out the area and perimeter of a square or rectangle. We use Lego® and other bricks to teach fractions; paper crafts are used for tangrams (dissection puzzles); art is being used to explore maths. Abstract concepts become easier to understand when the mind is fully engaged.”
Paula Assaf, Head of the Maths department at the School of Modern Skills, says: “We work to create a resilient passion and appreciation for maths. We implement ‘Gamification’ at an early age, and we extend it to game-based learning in our high school classes. ‘One more round, Miss!’ is a request that I always cherish in my class!
“We make maths fun in a variety of ways, such as maths bingo, a maths scavenger hunt, or creating our own dice or deck of cards. Such tasks, in addition to video and online games, help students recall basic facts and pre-requisites, emphasising the new outcomes attained from their daily class work.”
Kirsty Webb and Richard Brashier are Maths Teachers in the primary years at Aldar Academies Al Yasmina Academy, and have developed a mastery approach. “We provide opportunities for our students to become skilled in order to delve deeper into applying what they have learned through problem solving and reasoning. To consolidate learning, we work in line with the following ‘Concrete, Pictorial, and Abstract’ approach.”
- Make it – I can make it using manipulatives
- Draw it – I can show it
- Write it – I can explain it in different ways
- Prove it – I can prove it using a different way
- Teach it – I can teach it others
“We advise our parents to include their children in real-life problem solving at home through shopping, cooking, and budgeting.”
Indeed, using different scenarios is vital in making maths fun, as James Turner, Head of Maths in Secondary years at Al Yasmina Academy, illustrates: “Like learning to ride a bike or even kicking a football, children should apply the same determination and persistence when learning maths. A positive maths environment at home will help to encourage the love of the subject. Maths often needs a logical approach to solving problems, and these skills can be enhanced at home through solving regular puzzles, taking part in games, or even downloading apps that encourage problem solving skills.”
“Math concepts can be related to real life situations,” says Rola Arayassi, Elementary Math and Science Educator at Horizon Private School – Branch, Abu Dhabi. “Students should be asked why they are learning addition, subtraction, or any other concept in math. Students can have hands-on activities using Math kits. They can also work in groups and discuss solutions together. Showing videos, playing Math games, using Math Apps or Math websites, all help in engaging students more and make them more interested.”