"Maths is just not a subject I can grasp!" You often hear your children utter these dreadful words. As a parent, you may feel that you cannot help your child with maths as you too are not a "maths person". Then you dwell on the belief that maths and the ability to calculate easily is genetically passed on. Clearly, you didn't have the maths gene so your child won't have it either. Aside from not knowing what a problem expects from your child, the subject is one that requires constant practise and effort from your child in order for him or her to do well at it. The truth is that instead of practising complex mathematical problems, your child would much rather be calculating the number of lives that he has left in a PlayStation game.

Maths worksheet being completed
Tackling maths problem may be hard that's why you may need a tutor | Source: Unsplash

So why does your child dread maths?

  • Firstly the South African CAPS aligned school timetable expects 5 hours of maths for Grades 4-6 per week and 4 and a half hours of maths for Grade 7-9. This means that by the end of the week, your child feels as if he or she has done far too much mental maths and his or her brain has given up on calculating completely.
  • Maths homework tends to be given daily in most schools.
  • The CAPS document expects intermediate and senior phase teachers to complete many mathematical concepts and thus each child has only a limited amount of class time to grasp one topic before the teacher moves on to an entirely new topic.

Maths again is a subject that if you don't grasp instantly, you will struggle to grasp it every time you try. Another fact is that your child may be like many other children who silently suffer from dyscalculia. Dyscalculia is a dysfunction of the brain that makes it impossible to understand maths.

Where Can You Go to Get Your Child to Learn Maths?

Well, there is a vast range of mathematical programmes specifically designed to assist learners in South Africa to do well in mathematics.

Kip McGrath

The Kip McGrath system was founded by Kip and Dugnea McGrath who believed that every child could learn. This belief guided them to open the first Kip McGrath tutoring centre in Australia. The first tutoring centre started out from the McGrath family's garage and grew from there into a global franchise. The programme works by teaching children core mathematics basics which will then lead to children grasping complex mathematical information. Maths core, maths problems, and algebra forms the basis of this programme.  It works by offering a child limited face-to-face time with a tutor, stimulating computer-based learning when the tutor is not helping, and homework revision for reinforcing learning at home.

Complex maths calculations
South Africa has many maths tuition service providers. | Source: Antoine Dautry Unsplash

Seriously Addictive Maths (SAM)

There are many SAM centres opening up in South Africa. SAM is based on Singapore's mathematics curriculum that is known to be one of the best maths systems worldwide. Children who sign up for SAM can use any method suitable for them for problem-solving and learners' creative approaches toward maths are encouraged and applauded.

While enrolling your child in a mathematics programme or at a particular maths centre is one way to get your child the mathematical help that he or she needs, there is a more practical option. If your child is not thriving when learning maths in a classroom situation with other children, find a private tutor for your child instead.  The Superprof site boasts some of the best math tutors in South Africa. An advantage of allowing your child to learn maths with a private tutor is that your child can learn individually without having to wait for the tutor's attention or work at the pace of anyone else. There are many qualified maths teachers on the Superprof site who know what is expected of children to excel at South African mathematics and therefore you cannot go wrong by selecting a Superprof tutor. The Superprof site was founded by Wilfried and Yann and is build upon the idea of connecting the best tutors to tutees to make a meaningful relationship in which learning thrives. There are about 7 107 maths tutors to choose from in South Africa.

Finding the Best Maths Teacher

The maths teacher that your child gets does really affect how your child will feel about the subject. So while you could be under the impression that putting your child into any tutoring centre is the solution, the wrong tutoring centre could increase your child's hatred for maths. If your child is dissatisfied with his or her tutor, perhaps find another tutoring centre or a private tutor. You need to make sure that you find a tutor who has all the charm and characteristics of being a good maths teacher. So how do you know if you've chosen the right maths teacher to help your child study for his or her maths exam? The maths teacher that you find needs to be:

  • Engaging
  • Knowledgeable of the subject content
  • Motivational
  • Caring and considerate
Maths teachers must be good at what they do
A good maths teacher has remarkable qualities| Source: Unsplash

An excellent maths teacher is one who knows that he or she is not perfect. One who allows your child to understand that mathematics is also about making mistakes and then learning from them. One of the most valuable aspects of a great maths teacher is that he or she is constantly trying to improve himself or herself. It is important to know the background of the maths teacher that you find to help your child. Having a teacher's profile in front of you will help you see what qualifications the maths teacher has and if he or she is constantly improving himself or herself. This is a great quality for a maths teacher to possess as he or she will instil the culture of lifelong learning in your child.

Aside from the teacher profile, you need to see if your child feels confident about the subject after his or her maths lessons. Is your child constantly speaking about a new concept learnt during maths class? The more motivation the maths teacher provides to the child, the more enthusiastic your child will be about the subject. A child who fears maths and does not get motivated to do well will always approach every maths exam with fear and apprehension. Make sure that the maths teacher who assists your child at a tutoring centre or privately cares about your child and considers your child's feelings. A child struggling with dyscalculia battles the maths monster daily, so having a maths teacher or tutor who can teach your child patiently and compassionately is a necessity.

Lastly, a great tutor teaches maths in an engaging way. A maths tutor can use technology to make mathematical learning fun and more interactive. They also do not prescribe a certain method for calculating, allowing learners to derive their own methods of calculating. This allows children to learn through problem-solving which is the best way to learn maths.

Let Your Child Learn Maths in a Fun Way

There are many ways to encourage your child to take a keen interest in maths. For younger children, you can teach maths by playing games with your child.

Counting in all ways
Make maths fun | Source: Unsplash

You can teach foundation phase children to add by using the counters on dice or you can teach shapes and addition by adding the same shapes on a few cards from a pack of cards. Using funky buttons is also a good idea to teach children how to count. Get involved in your child's homework and try to relate the task to what your child knows. Oftentimes children need to see the link between real life and the subject that they are learning in order to appreciate the subject. A simple trip to the shopping mall that requires your child to calculate how much change you will get from R100 will do the trick. Do some research on mathematical concepts and how maths came about.

You can even take it back in time and research the Egyptian numeration system and get your child to take an interest in how numerals came about. If your child particularly likes history as a subject, integrating subjects is also a fun way for your child to get more interested in a subject that he or she may not like. Other fun ways of getting your child to learn maths are by incorporating his or her love for gaming with maths learning. There are various online maths games that can make maths learning creative and fun for your child. Mathletics South Africa is one such online game that has attention-grabbing activities that will stimulate your child to learn. Due to its online nature and the awesome graphics used, Mathletics make children believe that they are playing rather than learning. The software in this way supports parents to teach learners maths in a fun way. There are, however, many free online games that can be used as well to foster the ideal learning environment for children at home.

Teaching maths in a fun way may help children understand that maths is not the scary monster that they think it is. In this way, your child can feel more confident when he or she sits for the maths exam.

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Laila is an enthusiastic English educator and a fun-filled freelance writer. She has accomplished her dream of getting her first book published and has managed to write over 1 000 000 words since beginning her freelance career. In her free time, she is a travel blogger who explores all South Africa has to offer.