Understanding the importance of multiplying their potential

Fun-damental maths explained

Have you recently asked your child what they want to be when they grow up? Is it a scientist, doctor, musician, lawyer, business owner, superhero who saves the day, gracious ballet dancer, or something else? Here’s the thing about nurturing who your child’s going to be. It’s all about ensuring that they not only have all the tools to make their dreams a reality but also about giving your child the opportunity to navigate through their journey using their own creativity and problem-solving skills, and that’s where one subject comes in as a fundamental practice – mathematics. 

1 + 1 = two steps closer to your child reaching their full potential! See, when your child has a grasp of mathematics, especially at a fundamental stage, they have an advantage to multiply their potential in the future. As a subject, maths may seem very technical and scientific, which is true. However, maths unlocks the freedom and ability for your child to take ownership of the way they think, plan, process and execute almost anything they touch, because maths is everywhere – from measuring their breakfast cereal to counting their lunchtime snacks. 

As a parent, it’s crucial that you actively invest in your child’s mathematics development and understanding. This is one the of most influential ‘gateway subjects’, which contributes to the country’s economic growth and development considering the opportunities excelling in maths offer your child. The South African Mathematics Foundation (SAMF) have expressed the importance of maths as a tool to help in the development of logical thinking. Further to this, the SAMF published a study in 2020 which reports that intensive maths training has been shown to impacts cognitive development across a number of areas, ranging from music and video gaming to Braille reading. 

However, there has been concern over the maths literacy standard in our country, as expressed by Stellenbosch University’s Department of Curriculum Studies chairperson, Professor Michael Le Cordeur: “The problem is not maths itself but the teaching by teachers who themselves grapple with principles. What we need is a whole new approach to the teaching of maths where maths is portrayed as an asset and not something to be scared of”. In 2007, data collected revealed that the majority of Grade-6 teachers in South Africa cannot answer a question which their learners ought to be able to answer based on the curriculum. “Our youth are brought up to believe that maths is too difficult, that it has no real value in the real world and, therefore, it is not worth the effort, which can have an incredibly negative effect on learners’ attitudes on these subjects,” says Prof Azwinndini Muronga, dean of Science at Nelson Mandela University. 

So, how do we encourage and support children from the very beginning in building their confidence, resilience and interest in maths, despite the challenges around the subject? 

1.    Learn as they learn. Mom and dad, as schoolteachers are an extension of you when your child is at school, you are an extension of the teachers when your child gets home. Practise with your child. Learn along with them and show them that this is a subject not to be afraid of, but to explore and enjoy. 
2.    Encourage and support them. It’s important for your child to know that you believe in them, no matter the academic results they bring home. Your child needs to know that you believe their skills will improve and that you are confident in their abilities. This is always paired best with practice time at home, even when there is no assigned homework. 
3.    Focus on solving the problem, not just finding the answer. Maths is all about the patterns and solutions used to land up with a single answer. But before your child spends hours trying to solve for x, encourage a journey to the answer instead because that is where the real results lie. They may solve for x in the homework session, but they need to know the journey and understand the principles in order to apply them to any equation, no matter what the solve for x is. 
4.    Tell them about your journey with maths. Empathy is always an amazing tool to use in levelling with your child about anything, but most importantly when it comes to any insecurities they may have with regards to their schoolwork or subjects. When you share your journey, it allows them to know they are allowed to pace themselves and it shows them that they can reach mom and dad’s level of success some day. Even if they don’t understand an equation today, they can continue to practise and will get it right eventually – which always comes sooner than expected.
5.    Allow them the chance to show you a thing or two. When your child gets the opportunity to explain to you how they have solved an equation when you genuinely don’t really know how they got to the answer, give them a round of applause and admit to it. Then ask them to teach you the trick of how they solved that problem. This not only builds their confidence and increases their interest in maths, but allows them to take ownership of their understanding.
6.    Ask them what they want to become when they grow up and show them exactly how their understanding of maths will give them an advantage in getting there.
7.    Start every homework or practice session with a balanced meal or snack and a cup of NESTLÉ® NESPRAY® FortiGrow™ – their Maths Buddy in a glass. It’s packed with essential nutrients that help multiply their potential.

Here’s to nurturing our future scientists, doctors, musicians, lawyers, business owners, superheroes, ballet dancers, and every dream in between.