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When school children perform poorly in maths, their parents are most likely to attribute this to the child’s fear of maths. The problem with this notion is that it can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. In general, young students do not really fear the subject. What they are really afraid of is the confusion and intimidation usually associated with not understanding the underlying concepts.

Why should parents subscribe to this concept? For one, knowing the underlying root of a child’s poor performance in maths allows them to find a viable solution that is aimed at developing a positive attitude toward the subject as well as building the self-confidence of the child. Furthermore, understanding this concept will allow the parents to find a viable solution that would help in developing the child’s ability to think critically and solve problems instead of simply fulfilling the requirements of the school’s curriculum, which is quite a narrow-minded view.

For parents with kids between kinder and grade five levels, here are a few maths practice activities that will help develop critical thinking as well as self-confidence in your child. Ideally, these exercises should be done orally and visually. Pictures and real-world objects like coins and blocks may be used when appropriate.

Counting and grouping are among the most basic mathematical skills. In the end, your goal would be to have your child count from and to any number. It is also worthwhile to teach the child to count both forward and backward.

Start counting by 1s and as his confidence develops; begin counting at any number. For example, start counting from 0 then 1, 2, 3… Afterwards, you may start counting at any number, like 12, 13, 14… As your child progresses further, try counting by 2s, 10s, 1/2s and so on. By continuing with this practice, you’ll help your child master addition and even the multiplication table.

One way to help your child further improve with maths is helping him see “groups.” Begin with questions that focus, for example, on the number 10, multiples of 10 and the powers of 10. Furthermore, forgo the use of pencil and paper. Instead, let your kid visualize the problem at hand. Some examples of these include:

• 7 (or 70, 700) and how much more to make 10 (or 100, 1,000)?
• 10 and how much more to make 15 (or 18, 25)?
• How many 10s are there in 50? 100? 200?
• How many four-person teams can you make out of 12 kids? 20 kids? 100 kids?