How do we effectively teach a language?
Language is important. It's important to start learning to speak, to read and write. In the same way that it's important for a child to learn to crawl (and later walk, run and swim) because it means they've become part of the family and the wider community.
As a natural part of parenting, you start teaching language to your little ones as part of everyday interactions. You teach them words like "yes," "no", "mum" and "dad'. These words expand out to bigger words, then sentences…. until suddenly they are starting their first day of high school and need to hand in a 2,000 word essay.
Maths is a language too
In the same way they learn language, it's also important for your young ones to learn maths. At two or three, they won't need to know their numbers, but as they grow older, they’ll need an understanding of numbers for everyday life. Both "Wait for three minutes" and "pass me 2 apples and 4 oranges from the fruit bowl" use maths and that's part of daily conversation in the household.
The weekly grocery shopping needs maths. If you want to make sure all four of you have enough bread for the week, a basic maths understanding would needed to calculate four people x slices of bread x days of the week. Your weekly budget; the distance from home to the beach; the shape of your back yard; the dose of a medicine; the time needed to be ready for an outing; and the list goes on and on and on. When you think about it, you see that the study of almost every other subject of interest requires an understanding of maths.
Have a look at the diagram below. It shows the progression of numbers from the ancient times to modern day numerals. Very similar to language, maths has been updated and adapted over time. When life was far simpler, we started counting with lines...and have now developed a worldwide standard representation system for identifying numbers and this “language of maths”.
How do we effectively teach the language of maths?
It's important to have a strong framework to teach maths. There are so many numbers and symbols which, without a guided system that progresses from addition to complicated algebraic equations, can be tough to comprehend.
So, to ensure understanding, here's what research says you need to incorporate when teaching maths:
- Foundations established firstly
- Systematic progress
- Clear and explicit instruction
- Cumulative review
- Hands-on manipulatives
- Ongoing Assessment
- Direct modelling and demonstration
All of these essential components, combined with a mastery based approach, are sure to set your child up for success.
This mastery approach means you don't move on until your kids have fully understood the topic.There's no point, especially not in maths. If they don't understand Place Value now, be certain that they will struggle horribly in highschool. Numbers need places, the same way letters need to be spelt in the correct order.
If you want to find out how to easily teach maths in a systematic, step by step way using research proven methodologies, you can join the online and in-person Parent and Teacher Trainings that have just recently become available (due to the endless requests from parents and teachers alike!).
If you've got any questions about teaching maths in a supportive and effective way for your kids, add your comments below or email us directly.
We're happy to help!
The Team at Maths Australia