Want to encourage your child to love Maths? Here’s what the experts have to say

Got a little one who doesn’t think they’re any good at Maths? The experts from Singapore’s top international schools share how to build their confidence in Maths and get them to enjoy it..

Raise your hand if you’ve ever admitted that you aren’t a Maths person. Many people are convinced that they aren’t cut out to do Maths and this label haunts them all the way to adulthood. The funny thing is, these are probably the same people who wish that they had never pigeonholed themselves into being anti-Maths. As parents, we all want the best for our kids. This means making sure that they’re well-rounded students that aren’t afraid of a silly label. So how do we start? By making Maths exciting, of course! We’ve been chatting with experts from several top international schools in Singapore to get top tips on how to make Maths exciting for kids:

Mrs K Gray, Deputy Head of Lower Primary, Dover Court International School 

We know Maths is an important subject but how do you encourage kids to enjoy it?

Some concepts in Maths can feel challenging for children, especially if they are abstract, and so it is vital that it is as engaging and as hands-on as possible.  We can also encourage children to enjoy it by making it purposeful and relevant. Maths happens all day, every day around and as adults we don’t stop to think that we are using our mathematical skills.  We calculate costs in our head, judge distances when we are making our way somewhere, tell the time so we aren’t late to meet a friend and the list goes on. So the more children see Maths as a skill that is relative to their own lives and by encouraging them to use the skills such as measuring, ordering, using money and telling the time, the more they are likely to enjoy it (especially if they are keen to be more independent).

Can you share an activity that I can do with my child at home to get them to engage with Maths concepts in a fun way? What maths principles does the activity use? 

From birth to 18 months, I would encourage parents to use mathematical language around their child as much as possible. “Wow, look at the BIG green bus!” or “That is a very TALL tree, I wonder if you can spot a shorter tree?” As well as any counting rhymes such as Five Little Monkeys. This will encourage counting and the development of mathematical language.

From 18 months to 36 months, children are more aware of colours and shapes.  This is a wonderful time to get the children being as creative as possible, creating patterns with everyday objects such as leaves, shells and stones.

From 36 to 48 months, children are very aware of what is going on in the home and are often keen to help out with things around the house. This is a wonderful time to include them in baking. Children can help by measuring the ingredients, dividing the batter into cupcake cases and using the timer to measure when the food is ready.

Read Dover Court International School’s full profile on HoneyKids School Selector

Mike Carrigan, Assistant Principal/Curriculum Coordinator, Etonhouse

We know Maths is an important subject but how do you encourage kids to enjoy it?

Mathematics is a universal language which we use to learn about and understand our world. Children generally are fascinated with all aspects of maths and are enthusiastic when exploring maths in many different situations. I think rather than needing to encourage children to enjoy Maths, we need to find ways of exploring their interest in Maths and challenge them further. There are some great maths focused websites such as youcubed.com which contain lots of engaging and interesting maths tasks.

Can you share an activity that I can do with my child at home to get them to engage with Maths concepts in a fun way? What maths principles does the activity use? 

One way of exploring Mathematics is through board games. Classics like snakes and ladders develop lots of skills such as subitising (recognizing small quantities without counting), numeral recognition and addition if you play with two dice. My personal favourite is Mancala as it gives opportunities for addition, subtraction, counting and subitising. Players also need to visualise their moves, decide what is the best strategy and problem solve. So much maths and so much fun to play. After learning the basic game play children will quickly start to outwit you as well.

Read EtonHouse’s full profile on HoneyKids School Selector

Dr. Andrew Shamshurin, Lead Teacher, Integrated International School

We know Maths is an important subject but how do you encourage kids to enjoy it?

We naturally encourage our children to read, write, and speak outside of school, wheras Maths is often limited to the classroom. At IIS, we aim to apply Maths to real life scenarios and situations that encourage our students to think-outside-the-box. Our kids may not think it’s obvious, but we use Maths every day!

During our Maths lessons, we often present students with a challenge that is within their understanding and can pique their interest. For example, while teaching the concept of fractions, we asked students to draw a delicious looking pizza pie. They were tasked to cut up equal slices to share among their classmates. If a student was hesitant to share or wanted to cut out a bigger slice for themselves, we asked them to see how their actions could affect their friendships therefore incorporating social skills into the lesson as well.

Can you share an activity that I can do with my child at home to get them to engage with Maths concepts in a fun way? What maths principles does the activity use? 

Ask your child to watch out for maths application/identification opportunities by pointing it out in the world around you. That could include checking and comparing prices at the supermarket, counting letterboxes along the street, reading recipes, calculating the dog’s age into human years or even measuring and comparing different heights amongst family members. Like everything else, your child’s skills, confidence, and excitement about Maths will improve with daily practice, support, and encouragement.

Read IIS’ full profile on HoneyKids School Selector

Daniela Graham, Middle School Math teacher, Stamford American International School

We know Maths is an important subject but how do you encourage kids to enjoy it?

Students are presented with authentic situations that they can relate to, therefore find meaningful and fun! They are intrinsically motivated because they are willing to take risks and are not afraid to fail. Problem-based learning is implemented throughout the units to help students learn through individual thought and investigation. Students are encouraged to talk about a problem and draw on their intuition to understand it. They demonstrate their knowledge and skills by developing a public product or presentation for a real audience.

As a result, students develop deep content knowledge as well as critical thinking, creativity, and communication skills in the context of doing an authentic, meaningful project. Their self-esteem and confidence in Math increases and they are willing to take more challenges.

Can you share an activity that I can do with my child at home to get them to engage with Maths concepts in a fun way? What maths principles does the activity use?

Try this simple exercise “Only 4’s”. It covers number sense, number and operation by getting kids to find every number between 1 and 20 using only four 4’s and any operation. Ask your child: “Can you find all of the possible solutions?” The more solutions you get for each number the better.

Read SAIS’ full profile on HoneyKids School Selector

HoneyKids asia Singapore Math Grange Institution

Ms Helen McPherson, Year 1 class teacher, and Mrs Julie Cooper, Year 2 class teacher, The Grange Institution

We know Maths is an important subject but how do you encourage kids to enjoy it?

It is often assumed that Maths is about memorisation and numbers – and that it is boring. It is important to let children enjoy the process of learning Maths from a young age. Allowing children to focus on the logic behind Maths instead of right or wrong is more important. Presenting Maths in the form of puzzles and games can encourage kids to enjoy learning.

Can you share an activity that I can do with my child at home to get them to engage with Maths concepts in a fun way? What maths principles does the activity use? 

“Numicon” is one interesting math resource for any Primary Years classroom as it is perfect for teaching children about concept of numbers, and visualising them in their mind. Students are challenged to mix and match shapes that represent numbers to achieve learning objectives. It stimulates learning through a multi-sensory level – using colours, shapes and touch allow learning to take place. It covers progressive logic and understanding of numbers (odd and even), and how different combinations can achieve different results.

Read The Grange Institution’s full profile on HoneyKids School Selector

Top image: Dover Court International School

Like this story? Here’s more we think you’ll enjoy:

What you need to ask on your school tour
Foreign language and bilingual programmes international schools in Singapore are offering
International school curriculums explained
The international schools that are thinking green

Don’t forget to subscribe to our weekly newsletter and follow us for fun moments on HoneyKids Instagram!