“How should children begin to learn and enjoy Math?”
Often, mathematics is seen as a subject that involves a lot of rote learning and the memorizing of formulas. Contrastingly, the mathematical concepts learnt should make sense to children as they learn to reason and solve math problems logically.
Learning mathematics in the 21st Century is about understanding how mathematical concepts are interconnected with one another and how mathematics is related to the real world. All these can be progressively learnt in conducive classroom environments that allow children to explore, problem-solve, make mistakes, ask questions and learn from teachers and peers.
When children are in an environment where they can exchange ideas and discuss about mathematical concepts freely, they have opportunities to reflect upon their findings, listen to their peers and learn much more than they would as individuals.
Richard Skemp, an educational psychologist, developed five aspects of mathematical proficiency, which can serve as guidelines for teachers to facilitate math learning more effectively. They are; conceptual understanding, strategic competence, adaptive reasoning, procedural fluency and productive disposition. (pp. 26-28)
With the awareness of these five aspects, teachers can intentionally plan purposeful math activities for children with the goal of having them attain these gradually. Beneficially, children have a richer understanding of concepts when they understand the relations between concepts, allowing them to remember and recall strands of information with more ease. Furthermore, the relational understanding in children will allow them to apply problem-solving skills in different situations that they encounter too.
Without a doubt, children will grow to have a positive attitude towards learning mathematics. They will develop persistence in attempting math problems and confidence in their ability to understand mathematics.