Do you remember the mountain-stack of printouts and math worksheets on your desk as a kid? Are you going to do the same to your little one? Or are you doing it already?
For many parents, part of home-based learning could be having their child complete heaps of printed worksheets and past year papers. These worksheets — from the internet, workbooks, or a neighbourhood tuition centre — seem like a simple way to get some supplemental learning to keep your child occupied. Yet, are they really the best way to develop true math skills in young children?
Why should parents nowadays go beyond using math worksheets for learning?
1) Worksheets no longer guarantee learning or academic excellence
Many of us remember the old way of “learning math” — worksheets after worksheets — which was really just about looking for repeated questions and model answers to predict what examiners may ask.
Sure, this method may get you through some quizzes and tests in the early years, but for true educational success, it isn’t enough. Some people never move beyond those skills and find it hard to learn more complex concepts as the years go on.
In fact, many experienced educators and Ten Year Series authors have also noted that questions from the national-wide exams have long tended not to be repeated for close to a decade. That’s to say, rote memorisation is no longer the key to scoring!
2) Worksheets develop little higher-order thinking
Higher-order thinking skills, recognised as a critical enabler to Singapore’s PISA rankings success, is one of the sought-after 21st Century competencies of all modern education the world over.
The perceptible increase in the frequency of “challenging” questions — that require students to connect, apply, reason and justify math concepts in new and innovative ways — in the recent PSLE math papers also points to MOE’s growing preference for an inquiry-based learning approach.
However, many supplemental math worksheets emphasise and rely on rote learning, rather than ways to develop independent problem-solving skills. Such mind-numbing “skill rehearsal” doesn’t encourage divergent, critical, or creative thinking. Worse still, it may make your child think that there is only a single “right” way to solve a problem!
3) Worksheets are just as dry as dust
Can we just agree that math worksheets are b-o-r-i-n-g? They don’t add much value to learning (see the points above) nor do they appeal to children of any age. Drill and kill. The last outcome you would want for your child is to turn them off from learning or have them scared of math.
Children love games. They like to be challenged. They need to enjoy the process of learning. There are tons of alternatives — math puzzles, songs, and gamified courseware — that can keep your child engaged while gaining hands-on experience in solving math problems. Why still hang on this paper “security blanket”?
Using an interactive method that truly teaches students the building blocks of math instead of memorising answers, is the ultimate foundation behind the Spark Math curriculum. Your child can understand how they reached the answer, which will be essential when learning more complex math concepts as they get older.
What are some ways parents can support students in learning math?
1) Recognise the importance of early math learning
Babies as young as 3 months can tell the differences in quantity, so it’s never too early to start teaching math in early childhood. What your child learns in their first six years of the school provides the foundation upon which they will build their academic future.
A study from the University of California found that early math skills can predict future academic success better than early reading skills. The scientists concluded that P5 students with persistently low math skills were far less likely to graduate from junior college or attend university.
2) Create opportunities for your child to use what they are learning in meaningful ways
When children explore and experience what they’re learning, as opposed to memorising modal answers from math worksheets, they build deeper understanding that is retained for a longer time and develop a desire to learn more.
With math concepts underpinning our everyday activities from shopping to planning for the weekends, making budgets to calculating time, you’ll never run out of chances to let your child practise math meaningfully!
3) Don’t be afraid to use the technology your child loves
There are tons of ways to practise math on tablets and computers. Using games, videos, and personalised worksheets on the devices students already use helps make learning part of everyday life.
Gamification of learning is an educational approach to foster motivation by incorporating game-based elements such as point scoring, peer competition, teamwork, leaderboard, and interactive features into the learning environment.
Spark Math online courses offer small-group and interactive classes by making use of a research-based curriculum and state-of-art technology to craft a highly interactive and engaging learning experience tailored to meet the learning styles of the younger generation.
Spark Math’s award-winning learning system helps children develop skills and have fun while learning using:
- Animated content to break down and explain math concepts
- Games to encourage practice that is engaging and interactive
- Ex-MOE live teachers to give each child personalised attention and guidance
- Small-group settings to promote social learning and friendship building skills
Spark Math online classes are designed for K2 to P4 students. Students can look forward to animated explanations and highly interactive lessons that help them to master math heuristics. Sign up for a FREE trial class to experience Spark Math today!