My child doesn’t like math, what should I do?

[Update March 15, 2021]

Good reading skills would help to be good at math (among other things)

The areas of the brain that are stressed during reading are also at work during other seemingly unrelated activities, such as math, according to a new study. As a bonus, our tips and advice to make your child aware of this essential subject of his schooling.

If your child is struggling with math, you might give them a helping hand… by helping them improve at reading. If this sentence is counter-intuitive, it is nevertheless the conclusion that can be drawn from reading the results of a new scientific study, published on February 12, 2021 in the journal “Piirid arvutuslikus neuroteaduses".

It all started with work on dyslexia led by researcher Christopher McNorgan, who works in the psychology department at the University of Buffalo (United States). He discovered that areas of the brain responsible for reading were also at work during seemingly unrelated activities, such as performing mathematical exercises.

« These discoveries overwhelmed me Christopher McNorgan commented in a statement. “ They enhance the value and importance of literacy by showing how reading fluency reaches all domains, guiding how we go about other tasks and solve other problems ”, ta lisas.

Here, the researcher managed to identify dyslexia in 94% of cases, whether in the group of children practicing reading or maths, but his experimental model has above all revealed that cabling the brain for reading also had a role to play when doing math.

« These results show that the way our brains are wired for reading actually influences the way the brain works for math », Said the researcher. “ This means that your reading skills affect the way you approach problems in other areas, and help us better understand [what happens with] children with learning disabilities in reading and math. “, He detailed.

For the scientist, therefore, it is now scientifically proven that the fact of focus on learning to read will have consequences far beyond improving language skills.

Math, from kindergarten to CE1

We only speak of “mathematics” from the first grade. Because in kindergarten, the official programs consider that math is part of a vast whole called “discovery of the world” which aims, as its name suggests, to make children manipulate and discover the concepts, but while remaining in the background. the concrete. For example, the notion of double is worked on from the major section, up to CE1. But in kindergarten, the goal for the child is to give legs to chickens, then rabbits: a hen needs two legs, two hens have four legs, and then three hens? In CP, we come back to it, with dice constellations displayed on the board: if 5 + 5 is 10, then 5 + 6 is 5 + 5 with one more unit. It’s already a little more abstract, because the child no longer handles the dice himself. Then we build tables to learn: 2 + 2, 4 + 4, etc. In CE1, we move on to larger numbers (12 + 12, 24 + 24). The bases on which will be based all the learning being thus posed between the large section and the CP, it is important not to let the child sink into the blurry magma of “not really understood”, while having well in mind that learning also depends on the maturity of the child, and that we cannot rush things in the name of a standard that only exists in the minds of parents anxious by the academic success of a nephew or a neighbor …

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The keys to identifying a child in difficulty

“Being good at math” will only have meaning from CE2 onwards. Before, all we can say is that a child has, or does not have, the facilities to enter into the learning of numbering (knowing how to count) and arithmetic. However, there are warning signs that can justify taking charge, fun but regular, at home. The first is poor knowledge of numbers. A child who does not know his numbers beyond 15 on All Saints’ Day in CP risks being dumped. The second signal is the child who refuses failure. For example, if he does not want to count on his fingers because it feels like a baby (suddenly he is wrong without being able to correct himself), or if, when we have shown him that he is wrong, he get caught up in sulking. But mathematics, like reading, is learning by making mistakes! The third clue is the child who, when questioned on the obvious (“2 and 2 is How long”) answers anything while appearing to expect the solution from the adult. Here again, he must be made aware that the answers given at random do not allow him to count. Finally, there is lack of agility and training : the child who makes a mistake in counting with the tip of his finger because he does not know where to put his finger.

Numeration, the keystone of learning

The two black spots on which children in difficulty will skate are classically the count and the calculation. In short: knowing how to count and calculate. All of this is obviously learned in class. But nothing prevents cultivating these skills at home, especially for counting, which does not require any teaching technique. From the large section, count starting from a number (8) and stop at another fixed in advance (target, like 27) is a good exercise. With several children, it gives the game of the cursed number: we draw a number (for example in lotto chips). We read it aloud: it is the cursed number. Then we count, each saying a number in turn, and whoever pronounces the cursed number has lost. Counting down (12, 11, 10), going back one or going forward one, from the CP, are also useful. Ready-made digital tapes can be found on the web: print one from 0 to 40 and stick it in the child’s room, in a straight line. Be careful, it must have a zero, and the numbers must be “à la française”; the 7 has a bar, the 1 too, beware of the 4! Print it wholesale: the numbers are 5cm high. Then the child colors the tens box, but without knowing the word: he colors each box that comes after a number that ends in 9, that’s all. Nothing prevents you from putting Post-it notes on key figures : age of the child, mother, etc., but without coloring the boxes.

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Games around the digital tape

The family went to the forest, we picked up chestnuts. How long ? In large section, we put one on each square of the strip, we practice knowing how to read the number. At CP, in December we make packs of 10 and count them. Conversely, the adult reads a number, to the child to point it on the tape. Riddles are also useful: “I think a number smaller than 20 which ends in 9” is possible from All Saints’ Day. Another game: “Open your book to page 39”. Finally, to encourage the child, we can ask him, at every short vacation for example, to recite the tape by heart, as far as he can and without making a mistake. And to place a colored cursor on the number reached, which highlights his progress. At the end of the major section, this exercise gives numbers between 15 and 40, and in CP the pupils reach 15/20 at the beginning of the year, 40/50 around December, the passages from 60 to 70 then from 80 to 90 being particularly vicious in French because of the recurrence of “sixty” and “eighty” in the numbers 70 and 90.

Calculation games

The goal here is not to have your child add the column bill: the school is there for that and will know how to do it better than you. However, the automation of procedures is essential. So Mum would like to put away the buttons of her sewing kit: what should I do? From CP, the child will “pack”. You can also play the merchant, and have the commissions paid with real coins, very motivating for the child, from the month of March in CP. A 5 euro banknote, How long does it make in coins of 1? The riddles also work well: I have 2 candies in the box (show them), add 5 (do it in front of the child, then ask him to imagine so that he can no longer count them one by one. candies falling in the box), how many do I have now? What if I take out three? Also involve the child in cooking recipes: the concrete and the game are the best way for a child to get into mathematics. As such, there are also good lotto games, which combine the simple reading of numbers with small, easy additions, with different levels of difficulty.

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Learn math by heart, a method too often forgotten

There is no mystery: mathematics can also be learned by heart. The addition tables, seen at the first grade, are to be seen and reviewed, the writing of the numbers must be neat as soon as possible (how many children write 4s like a typewriter that they then confuse with the 7…) . However, all these automatisms can only be acquired with practice, like the piano!

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