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How to get your kids to conquer math?
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September 16, 2015  |  Written by M. Rodrigo Brao

Some people have a knack for math but others certainly don´t. But contrary to what most people think, recent studies prove that having talent is not that important. It´s perseverance that counts. Recent studies suggest that students who work extra hard and believe in themselves, are the ones who do well. Not necessarily the ones who have a higher IQ.

Carol Dweck in her book Mindset, The New Psychology of Success, speaks of the importance of positive reassurance. There are students who, when pressured or challenged stop trying. However, those who realize their limitations see challenges as a chance to learn and improve. Those are the ones who succeed: the ones who know that experience and effort are key.

Geoff Colvin transmits a similar idea in his book, Talent is Overrated. This expert believes that success is based on working hard to improve a specific ability. Those who have a natural talent tend to light up like stars but as the years go by, those who work are the ones who succeed. Math teacher Kim Callan agrees: “Hard working students rarely fail in my class.”

Parents play a definite role in teaching children to think positive. Remember, we must be good examples so your children feel that when faced with difficulty, it’s worth it to try. Here are some examples of things to do and avoid, to help them conquer math.

POSITIVE: Tell your kids that anyone can do god at math. Remind them that scientists, such as Einstein, had a hard time with math at first. When he was nine years old, his teacher told his father that Albert would never be successful, no matter what he chose to do.

NEGATIVE: Don´t come up with excuses. If you say things like: “I was never good at math”, you´ll be giving them reasons not to try.

POSITIVE: Praise your son or daughter when they´ve worked hard. Use concrete examples like: You did better than the precious exam! That´s because you did your homework and studied a lot.” By saying this, you´ll be reinforcing the idea that he or she is responsible of their own success.

NEGATIVE: Don´t compare their grades with those of their classmates. By doing so, they´ll set unrealistic goals for themselves instead of trying to improve.

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POSITIVE: Teach them that failure is a new opportunity to learn. If your son fails a text, don´t let him be hard on himself. Explain that there are stratedgies to do better such as a homework study plan or talk to the teacher to see what the mistakes have been.

NEGATIVE: If they´ve worked hard but failed the test, don´t get upset. The only thing you´ll achieve is have them feel more pressure and anxiety the next time around.

POSITIVE: If you hire a private teacher, make sure he isn’t too lenient or hard. He should teach your children the same level of math as they learn in school. “Giving a child an advanced math class is like asking someone to do breast strokes when they don’t know how to swim,” says professor Callan. “If you don´t want them to drown, you must teach them to float.”

NEGATIVE: Don´t insist your kids be at a higher math level. Some parents send their kids to algebra when they´re too young to assimilate that concept. As hard as they try, they´ll never succeed.

POSITIVE: Tell them how proud you are of their curiosity, perseverance and willingness to improve. These are the most important values they can learn.

NEGATIVE: Be careful when talking to them about natural abilities. If you are constantly saying how good he is at maths, he´ll get frustrated when things don´t play out well. If we tell him he´s no goof at math, he´ll have that sealed in his mind. Try to avoid labelling.

How do you help your kids conquer math?

Photo Credits: Shutterstock

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