Math is one of the subjects that students dread. I myself had difficulty overcoming fear in math. It was probably because my father didn’t have a lot of patience teaching it to us, when we were young. He was so easily frustrated when we couldn’t give the right answer immediately. Looking back, I could now honestly say that it is one factor that contributed to my distaste of math.

One thing that led me to the nursing field was because of an erroneous belief that I could avoid using math in the profession. I was absolutely mistaken. Math is part and parcel of being a nurse which involves pharmacology, patient intakes and outputs. We had to know how many grams or milligrams of medication a patient will be given according to age and weight, the time for the next dosage, drops per minute or how long a dextrose solution will last.

I’ve finally realized that you can’t avoid math because it is integrated into our daily lives. This realization helped a great deal when the time came to teach youngsters about math. Show them that math is not your enemy but one of your allies when dealing with life. It comes to your aid when buying groceries, planning home budgets, paying bills, figuring out loans, computing taxes and even in food preparations.

First of all, your child must learn how to count and then understand how numbers work. They have to begin counting the numbers in order from “one to ten”. You can point to your fingers while counting or incorporate fun while they’re learning by using nursery rhymes. Once they have mastered counting “one to ten”, then you can start teaching bigger numbers. Aside from that, they need to know what numbers look like or be able to read it. Show them the way how to write numbers and allot time for them to practice or write the numbers they’ve learned and show you. Give praise when they get it right so they will be motivated to learn more.

Addition is often the first math skill introduced to youngsters. Without knowledge of addition, learning subtraction, multiplication and division can be a struggle. Carrying and borrowing, in addition and subtraction, are not also easy when children don’t understand its concept. So, we should be patient when teaching this skill, give lots of time for practice and never leave a topic totally when they still haven’t understood it.

Once they have a good foundation of addition and subtraction, you can teach them the concept of “carrying and borrowing”. Let them try to solve multidigit problems. If they don’t know “carrying and borrowing”, their answers would look like this:

Problem #1

21

+ 9

–

=210

Problem #2

21

– 9

–

=20

when the correct answers should be:

Problem #1

21

+ 9

–

=30

Problem #2

21

– 9

–

=12

The child has given the wrong answer in the Addition problem because he didn’t “carry” 1 and added it to 2. In the other problem, he didn’t know how he can subtract 9 from 1 so he assumed that the answer is 0, not knowing that he can actually “borrow”.

When faced with this difficulty, explain terms in a simple manner that a child can relate. You can rename the terms or associate it with daily tasks. “Carrying” for them may mean carrying books, lifting something heavy or sending somebody to the top of a building. On the other hand “borrowing” can mean “a lack of __”, thereby having the need to borrow such as toys or books. Then deal with the math problem one column at a time.

There are several ways to make it easier for a child to grasp these concepts. You can involve them in counting money by putting the same kind of money into the same pile. Pennies, nickels, dimes and dollar bills have their own pile. Let him count how many pennies are there, remove a couple from the pile and ask him to count it again. Make him understand that it involves “adding and taking away”. Another fun method is to let them count fruits, candy, toys or play money and wooden blocks. Ask questions like, “We have 3 apples and 2 oranges in the fruit basket, how many fruits do we have when we combine them? “Or “You see 8 colored balls, count how many red balls we have?” Play money can also be used and count them by ones or two or tens. It depends on what the child has learned so far and you can continue from there.

When teaching, it’s better to use tangible things where children can see what you’re talking about and thereby relate to them more easily. It is with simple things that help them understand what they’re doing with math. Learning math skills can be easy for a child as long as you make lessons interesting and fun in a comfortable environment.