Math can help you drive a car, It's true. And we don't mean that math smarts will help you calculate your way around town, it's much simpler than that. It's much more foundational, and it starts in childhood, when the brain is still developing.
One of the most important factors for a child's success in any activity, be it math, science, or even a new sport is that child's first impression. Another is how that child's caregivers think about that activity. A parent who saw math as difficult and tedious often transfers that same perspective to their child. Mathematics is often thought of as a subject that a child either understands or doesn't, with little in between.
37% of kids struggle with math and develop fear of math. Seldom does this fear get ever resolved, and often it transcends into adulthood. If, as a child they don’t understand math and numbers, then as an adult they won’t understand their finances, but it doesn't stop there. Mathematics encompasses a wide variety of skills, abilities, and concepts that affect everyday life. You may wonder “where did I use my algebra or linear equations in everyday life?” And maybe you don't use linear equations, but those abstract processes actually provide the cognitive foundation for a successful life.
Studies have shown that when kids learn math, various cognitive processes work together in sync when children think with numbers. They use memory to recall rules and formulas and use logic to recognize patterns. They use language to understand the vocabulary in instructions and to explain their thinking and use sequential ordering to solve multi-step problems. The problem-solving mindset so necessary for entrepreneurship and success in general also gets a huge boost from mathemtacis. Finally, children use spatial ordering to recognize symbols and deal with geometric forms.
What is spatial ordering?
Putting it simply, spatial ordering, or spatial memory is the ability to tell where things are. For example, it tells you where the brake & accelerator pedal are in your car when you’re driving, so your foot can switch between them without your eyes having to look at them every time. We use spatial memory to locate things that we know have a pattern for being present at a certain place most of the time that we accessed them in the recent past. Like when you’re cooking, you know where the salt & pepper containers are in the kitchen on which specific shelf. We develop a pattern to find them at the same place and use less energy in locating them again. That's how math can help you drive a car. But it's just one example of the benefits of math.
When children learn math they're not just learning math, they're developing a complex interaction of foundational cognitive skills, of which spatial ordering is just one example.
Research shows that memory, language, attention, temporal-sequential ordering, higher-order cognition, and spatial ordering are among the many neurodevelopmental functions that play a role when children think with numbers. Higher-order cognition involves the ability to understand the problem, assess an approach for solving it, and implement the necessary steps required to solve that problem. Often this involves exploring new areas of learning, and thinking creatively. These components of thinking collaborate together in the mind of the child, constantly integrating newer concepts and procedural skills as they solve more advanced math problems.
Introducing Math with a Positive Mentality
Very often, while teaching our kids, our own subjective perspective tends to get superimposed on our kids when it comes to math. It is essential that we encourage our kids explore math on their own and more importantly make sure that we empower them with the toolkit to not just learn math concepts but, more importantly, to explore them in a fun manner, in a positive frame of mind.
Some children can maintain a positive frame of mind while looking at a daunting row of dry math problems. Studies have shown, however, that learning math with the help of visual aid, tends to improve fact retention by 90%. The ability to visualize while a teacher talks about geometric forms or proportion, for example, can help children store information in long-term memory and can help them anchor abstract concepts. In a similar fashion, visualizing multiplication helps students understand and retain multiplication rules.
Math is an essential subject. Not only is it important to be able to work with mathematical information, but the foundational abilities math teaches are all-important for a successful life. That's why at threetwoone.fun, we are working hard to make math, language, and education the centre of an exciting, joyful education.