How to encourage your child to practice math

How do I encourage my child to practice math? Do you ask yourself that question on a regular basis? Here are some tips that may help in turning a potentially deep-seeded dislike of math and practicing in general into a life-long positive pattern of achievement.

You know the famous rule, “any action yields an equal and opposite reaction”? When you use forceful means to get your child to do something that you know is good for them, you can actually create a deep-seeded resistance and potentially a long term problem for your child.

One of our friends had been forced to learn the piano throughout his childhood. He became very good at it – in his later teens he was a concert-level pianist. Then, the moment he had accomplished that and his family no longer pushed him to play, he dropped the instrument altogether. A few years later we had a gathering of a few friends and he was there too. The hosts had a piano at home and so we asked him if he could play a little tune for us. He declined and actually pretended he did not know how to play piano at all.

Isn’t that sad? Think of all the countless hours of practice wasted and the amount of money it would have cost the parents.

There is a great lesson in this – if we as parents force something onto our kids, we run the danger of ruining any chance of interest and enjoyment of the subject for the child. Clearly we don’t want to do that, but by the same token your kids have to practice some essential skills, whether they like it or not.

The key is to encourage effort, because that leads to results. Every child wants to please their parents and have them be proud of them. If you can create the experience over and over for them that you are proud of them when they put effort into something – all the more if it is something they’d rather not do – then getting your child to practice and master anything will become much easier. Including math.

A few suggestions on things to say:

  • Wow, you really put in a lot of effort – I am so proud of you!
  • (in front of others) Xxxx worked so hard at improving his/her division today. I am very impressed and very proud of him/her.
  • I can see just how much care you put into the things you do. You can be very proud of yourself, and I am too.
  • A winner is someone who gives it all he/she has got.

Things to be weary of saying

  • Xxx’s son scored much higher than you.
  • You need to come first, so work harder.
  • Why did you get that question wrong in the test? Did you not study properly?

So, praise their effort every time you can. Do not wait for (or even base it on) positive test results. That teaches them that only results count. Without hard work, there will be no results, and most kids cannot quite see that yet. However, if you instill in them the experience that when they work hard on something they find challenging, their parents praise them and feel proud of them, how much harder and more readily will your child tackle life’s challenges?

This is how to encourage your child to practice math (and much more), don’t you agree?

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