Mathematics is a very important subject because we use it in our day to day lives. Regardless of that, many learners express it as one of the most difficult subjects and that explains why many educators have been experiencing poor performance in this subject. This could be because most learners did not have a good foundation during their initial stages.
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In mathematics, geometry is one of the most difficult subjects that pose many challenges to children. Children need to understand shapes, sizes, figures, and figures so as to appreciate geometry. This calls for proper foundation in geometrical concepts, both in schools and homes. Therefore, this paper will shed light on how educators can teach mathematics to children efficiently, particularly learning geometry.
According to Rich and Thomas (2008), the process of learning mathematics commences early enough even before the child reaches the age of going to school. But this study progresses automatically as the child gets acquainted to his or her surroundings. For instance, when you bring two toys to three children they will tell you that they are not enough and yet they do not know anything about numbers.
This is because they expect each one of them to have a toy. When a child is being introduced to mathematics, the teacher should start on a gradual pace by ensuring that the child first learns the basics. For instance you can never teach children how to add numbers when you have not taught them about numbers. This means that the basic lessons should come first.
Children gain knowledge through observation. Therefore, it would be important for the teacher to attract the attention of the child when he/she is demonstrating how the calculations are done. This can be achieved by asking questions at random to ensure that the children’s mind is glued to what is going on in the classroom. Moreover, asking questions helps the teacher to gauge the understanding of the learners (Clements, 2006).
If the teacher feels that a particular topic in mathematics was not well understood according to the performance of children in that topic, he/she should consider repeating that topic by using different approaches. Some of the methods that enhance understanding include selecting learners who understand the topic and have them demonstrate in front of the classroom how they were able to solve the sums.
The teacher should be present to make corrections where necessary. Above all, the teacher should be very patient when teaching children because their thinking capacity is still low and should consider asking questions about the things that were taught in the previous day before moving to another topic. This will help the teacher to identify the areas that need special attention.
Sarama and Clements (2006) explain that the teacher should pay special attention to all children without being limited to fast learners.
Besides, when the teacher does not engage children in his/her discussions, the children’s minds are most likely to be carried by other thoughts such as how they will watch the next cartoon episode. Moreover, listening in itself is a difficult task and that is why learners doze in class. This can be avoided by asking questions and also telling stories that relate to the topic being studied.
Mathematics is a very demanding subject hence the teacher should teach it when the kids are still fresh especially in the morning hours because in the afternoons the children are most likely to be exhausted. This is due to the fact that the time they spend on other subjects and as well as playing their games hence their level of concentration may decline.
Most teachers think that the best way to teach children mathematics is by giving them lengthy homework. This is very wrong because they may complete the assignments and yet they do not understand the concepts involved. In mathematics, the formula is the most vital element because unless the learner understands it their can be no answer to any mathematical problem.
It would be better if the child does a few sums that he/she understands than attempting a bulk of math that he/she does not understand. In such a case, the child will tackle the questions just to please the teacher and this may drive the child towards copying from peers which could continue to affect the child later in academic life.
The teacher should develop a habit of identifying slow learners in the classroom and keep an eye on their progress (Deiner, 2009).
Mathematics, especially geometry is best learnt through frequent exercises. This means that the child can be scheduled to solve four to five mathematical problems in a day. This goes a long way in preventing the situation where the child’s mind is congested with lots of formulas that the child can hardly remember.
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When children are being introduced to geometry, it is important to teach them first about the geometrical apparatus such as the divider and the protractor so that when they come across a geometrical set they know how to use every tool including the compass. In addition, the children should be taught about the various geometrical shapes such as the triangles and rectangles among many other shapes.
Brumbaugh, Ortiz and Grasham (2006) state that while teaching a tough topic like geometry the teacher should integrate the parents and guardians to ensure that even after the child is out of school the parents and guardians will continue teaching the same topic to the child indirectly.
The parent can make the child understand the topic better by making them apply the geometrical skills in their plays and with the things that they interact with the most. For instance, the parent can ask the child to measure the width and length of the television set.
Parents can integrate geometry into the games children play. This includes making the child ride the bicycle in circles. The child can also be asked to measure the distance covered while riding the bicycle within the home compound.
Besides, the parent can ask the child to identify different shapes in the television programs the child watches. In addition, the parent can make snacks in different shapes to help the child understand the shapes better.
Deiner (2009) outlines that in geometry, the child’s understanding can be enhanced by displaying the various shapes and sizes in different pleasant colors. Besides, the teacher can also ask questions to the kid and provide assistance if the child gets stuck by giving a few hints towards the answer.
When the child works out a problem in the wrong way, the teacher should never give vague conclusions such as the answer was wrong or right but should rather elaborate the answer and help the child discover where he/she went wrong. This will make the child cautious about making the same mistake compared to when the teacher gives a vague remark.
Depending on the age of the child, the teacher can also employ arithmetic story books. This is in a bid to make the topic more interesting. The teacher needs to conduct assessment tests after covering a few areas of geometry.
The learners who achieve the highest marks should be rewarded with small gifts like cookies. Even without tests the teacher can motivate the children by requesting them to clap their hands for those that answer questions correctly.
Furthermore, children can be organized into small groups and then assigned problems to solve individually. In such case, the teacher should dig deeper into the child’s understanding by seeking to find out how the child at his answer.
This is accomplished by asking the child to explain why he gave a particular answer. Both the teacher and the parent need to be friendly to the child because if they are hostile or give lecture like remarks when the child makes a mistake it may demoralize the child.
The teacher can put on a warm smile in the classroom while the parent can offer a bar of chocolate during home based learning sessions. Both educators should also use a polite tone while speaking to the child. This also includes correctly choosing the words to use. The child should be made to identify the objects in his surroundings that are in the shapes taught in geometry class.
This can be items like plates, cups and beds among others. The parent should constantly remind the child about geometry by asking questions frequently such as when the child holds an item that has a geometrical shape (Garfias, 2011).
During class discussions every child should be allowed to express his views because that way the children will learn something from each other.
Besides, sharing their thoughts will provide a room for correction and thus build the child’s confidence while tackling such questions because he will remember what they learnt as a group. In some cases the children can be asked to write short essays about the topic. This practice aims at displaying their level of knowledge in the topic.
Harris and Turkington (2000) explain that practical exercises are also crucial in geometry because they enable children to demonstrate their skills. Such exercises can be carried out in a different location apart from the classroom such as in the play ground because they require more space for the shapes to be laid out.
The teacher can issue materials like blocks and porters mud and ask the kids to make the shapes they have learnt in class. Note that in this case there are no books to refer to.
In conclusion, geometry and mathematics in general should be made to look like a hobby for kids. If every child is provided with the appropriate guidance in understanding mathematics, the number of poor grades in science subjects that are reported in institutions of higher learning would diminish gradually because every learner would have changed his/her attitude.
Therefore, it is the duty of teachers and parents to assist children in learning mathematics.
Brumbaugh, K.D., Ortiz, E., & Gresham, G. (2006). Teaching Middle School Mathematics. New York: Routledge.
Clements, D. (2006). ”Ready for Geometry! From an Early Age, Children make Sense of the Shapes they see in the World around Them”. International Journal of Mathematical Education, Science and Technology. 2: 5-6.
Deiner, L.P. (2009). Inclusive Childhood Education: Development, Resources and Practice. New Delhi: Cengage Learning.
Garfias, L.E. (2011). ”Literal Math for Little Minds”. Whatever State I Am. Web.
Harris, J. & Turkington, C. (2000).Get ready! For Standardized Tests: Grade 2. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Rich, B. & Thomas, C. (2008). Schaum’s Outline of Geometry. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Sarama, J. & Clements, D.H. (2006). ”Early Math: Introducing Geometry to Young Children”. Scholastic. Web.