5 tips to get your children excited about math

January 17, 2020
by Whitelaw Reid, University of Virginia

Robert Berry says patience is a must when it comes to teaching children math. Credit: Dan Addison, UVA Communications

What are parents to do when their children don't show much interest or become easily frustrated by math?

In the second of a two-part series, Robert Berry—the University of Virginia's Samuel Braley Gray Professor of Education—answers the question. [Read the first part here.]

"I would advise caregivers to talk about with their ," said Berry, of UVA's Curry School of Education and Human Development. "These conversations can be about things they notice in their environments and about the mathematics that is happening in schools."

While engaged in the conversations, Berry suggests caregivers keep these five things in mind:

Of course, there are plenty of kids who really enjoy math, too.

What should a parent of, say, a kindergartner—one who is showing a remarkable aptitude—do to help grow his or her math skills beyond what the may be learning in school?

"When considering opportunities for acceleration in mathematics, care must be taken to ensure that opportunities are available to each and every prepared student, and that no critical concepts are rushed or skipped; that students have multiple opportunities to investigate topics of interest in depth," Berry said. "Too often, students skip essential mathematics content and concepts, which can have negative implications later on in their schooling.

"A classic example is when students are rushed or skip proportional reasoning in upper elementary and middle grades; this has implications for success in upper-level mathematics.

"Students with exceptional mathematical promise must be provided with differentiated instruction in an engaging mathematics learning environment that ignites and enhances their mathematical passions and challenges them to make continuing progress. They must have a variety of opportunities inside and outside of school to develop and expand their mathematical talents, creativity and passions. These experiences may include formal courses, extracurricular experiences such as math clubs, circles, competitions and mentoring."

Provided by University of Virginia