How to Encourage Your Child to practise Math
If you ask any teacher how can your child improve in his Math, I bet the most common answer is “Practise More”. But how do you encourage your child to practise Math? Do you find getting your child to do his Math homework, or any other subject, a daily problem? If that is so, you are definitely not alone. Almost all parents I spoke to told me they face this problem too. It is also one of the most common areas that children and parents fight over. Does this scenario sound familiar to you?
Mother: “Sean, can you switch off the TV and go and do your homework?”
Sean: “10 more minutes, mum.”
Mother: “What?! 10 more minutes? You have been watching for the past hour! Don’t you have homework to do?”
Sean: “Yes, yes… But I don’t feel like doing…”
Mother: “You are such a lazy boy. Switch off the TV and go and do your homework now!”
Usually, this method of communication does not solve the problem and only end up in ugly disputes. Parents often think that if their children do not do homework, it is because they are lazy. This is not always true. Children avoid homework for different reasons. Therefore if you can ponder deeper to find out what is the cause of the problem, you will realize constantly nagging and scolding them may not be the right solution after all.
For example, when a child avoids Math, it could be due to
1) He studied hard but failed. So he concluded that Math is not for him and it is totally pointless.
2) He gives up out of frustration. He does not know how to do the questions or where to start revising.
3) He is just a poor manager of time. He always pushes his homework till the very last minute.
You see, there can be many reasons to your child avoiding practising Math. Therefore I urge every parent to spend time communicating with your children to understand what reasons they have. And whatever the reasons they have for avoiding Math, it is important that it should not be allowed to become a habit, because those bad habits may become part of his working life when he grows up.
To help your child get into a habit of practising Math, it is wise to start a routine as soon as your child begins school. There are 3 key points to take note when setting up a routine for your child.
1. Set a Regular Time for Math Homework
Is your child doing his homework on the bus to school or on the way to tuition classes? If that is so, it is likely that his activities outside school take too much homework time. Your child needs to learn effective time management, which is a very important skill. Here are 3 tips for effective time management.
Set aside a Fixed Time for homework
I usually encourage parents to get their child to finish his homework right after he came back from school. Then, he has the rest of the day to relax and watch his favorite TV program.
Set aside a Fixed Amount of Time for homework
There is no perfect answer for the ideal amount of time one should spend on his homework. It really depends on the amount of homework there is. However, it is nevertheless a good rule to have him spend at least a fixed amount of time doing it. Generally for lower primary, an hour or so per day would be probably enough. After that, one will usually require longer time for revision too.
Have a break
Having a 10 minutes break halfway through the homework is a good idea. Don’t expect him to do homework for the whole period. Watch your child’s concentration span to decide when he should have his break or breaks.
2. Set a Fixed Place for homework
If your child is doing homework in front of the TV set, that is a problem. If your child is doing homework on the dinner table while the rest of the family is eating, that is going to be a problem too. He can’t be possibly concentrating on his work.
You need to set aside a fixed place for him to do his homework. Then he can associate this place as his ‘homework-place’ and it will be easier for him to concentrate and develop self-discipline. There are a few points to take note when choosing a place.
- Make that place specially ‘reserved’ for him
- A study desk with all his study materials and stationary will be a good idea.
- Keep it well clear of distractions
- TV set, toys, food is a no-no. Having a radio to accompany him will be a good idea though.
- Hang a “Do not Disturb” sign nearby. This trick works if he has brothers and sisters that constantly disturb him. It makes him feel important and feel that doing homework is a special and serious time
3. Easy Ones First, Tough Ones Later
Always let your child practise the easier questions first. Easy questions helps to build up your child’s foundation and most importantly, strengthens his self belief that Math is not as difficult as it seems. Once he has the belief, he will be motivated to practise Math without constant nagging. After your child is comfortable with the easy questions, slowly progress to the difficult problem sums.
Remember, good habits are not formed overnight. It requires day to day practice. So start nurturing a good habit of practising Math today!
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By Jimmy Ling
Director, Math Tutor
Intellicat Tuition School