Mathematics is not just a subject but a universal tool. The language of math is same all over the world. Math is the study about numbers, patterns, shapes, estimations etc. The application of math is so vast that it is used in almost every subject. For example we can say that without math, science is not possible, whenever we need to calculate something we need math whether it is geography, astronomy, physics, chemistry, general observations of everyday life and daily transactions. In-fact, while crossing the road, our mind is also doing mathematics; for instance with what speed is the car coming, would I be able to cross the road in that time or not. Almost every sport involves math too. Math is also involved in every business from a junk seller to a manufacturer. So math is almost everywhere and is a very important element of our day to day life. If integrated properly with the human brain, math can change the world drastically.
Mathematical literacy is a must element in providing the child with the basic skills to live their life. It is one of the basic pillars for the child on which his life is, and would be standing. So the base of this pillar needs to be really strong and clear.
Mathematics helps the child in developing analytical and reasoning skills with logical and structured thoughts.
Children start making observations about the phenomenon around them. Open ended questions in mathematics helps them to draw analogies between the previous concepts taught and its applications. The most interesting thing is that they get a chance to hear different point of views from their peers and discuss each other views that helps them to broaden their perspective. Many meth
ods may be used in solving a mathematical task. Emphasis should be placed on using skills and discussion rather than seeking a unique solution. This provides them with confidence in expressing their views in front of people and also accepting and respecting views of the others. If we are able to make the children see the math involved in his daily life and activities, then certainly it would become much more than just learning. It helps the child to develop their skills in multiple dimensions simultaneously.
Approach for teaching:
Constructive approaches should be central to the mathematics curriculum. To learn mathematics children must construct their own internal structures, patterns and their own procedures for problem solving. Reading, writing and arithmetic are the three basic R’s for a child. As in reading and writing, children invent their own procedures. We accept that children must go through the invented spelling stage before they begin to develop a concept of the structures of spelling. The same is true with the third basic R i.e. arithmetic. Children should be given the freedom to develop their own methods for problem solving. They shouldn’t be bounded with a single method taught to them by their teacher. The teacher should be open to the discussion on the approaches used by the child. During the elementary level, the child develops his own rules and procedures for solving problems and wants to try them out. We should encourage the child to use his/her own rules and procedures by making him/her visualize the application of concepts taught. The teacher should provide them with sufficient problems and time to solve them, instead of suppressing their creativity. By experiencing many different types of problems the child become more efficient. Wider the range of problems they encounter, the more likely they are to generalize the rules and use them in new situations. Children should be taught that the procedure of arriving at the answer is more important than the answer itself. We should make him concentrate on the approaches rather than the final answer.
The concept that is to be taught to the child should be planned properly. It should include examples from their daily life and their application which will make the child interested in the concept and help him/her understand better. Problems should be designed such that children get an opportunity to explore the world around them by using their creative ideas and imaginative power. Show children how mathematics can be used creatively to estimate, represent and drawing analogy with other situations or their experiences.
The questions should be modeled such that the child starts observing patterns. They should develop their own rules and procedures for solving the given problem. This will help children to develop new ideas for problem solving with logical reasoning, so that they know why are they using this concept and how are they going to apply it. Children should be given a fair chance to apply their own procedures and to practice the concept taught. The more the number of problems the child will solve, better the understanding he/she would develop. This will also help them in doing fast calculations and also give an initiation for the guessing work. For example, after doing a sufficient number of addition problems, he/she will be able to guess whether the answer of the next question would be less than or more than a certain figure. Thus the mind also gets involved subconsciously by the guessing activity; opening the doors for infinite possibilities.
Periodic revision of the concepts taught is very necessary, as it refreshes the previous concepts taught and helps them in solving further questions having multiple concepts. The levels of the problems should gradually become complex which will develop the child’s mind to handle complicated situations. It is commonly known that in the age group of 4-10 years, the learning curve of children is very steep. Children learn what they are taught. Instead of thinking that by using complex problems the child would be discouraged we should think the other way round i.e. if a single child would be able to solve the problem in the class, the rest of the class will automatically start doing the same problems, thus resulting in the confidence boost of the children The complex problems help them in probing and thinking about a task more deeply and more logically.
The problems on their experiences and local situations help them in seeing math as an integrated part of their life and make them realize the importance of math for their survival in the society. Make them experience math by using real-life problems. Help them in recognizing the power of math in their lives. Automatically when a child sees such immense application of the concepts taught, he would start observing those concepts in his experiences and would be aware of them whenever they are or will be applied in his life, and thus he starts learning and living math.