Is your child struggling with maths? Perhaps they are finding a particular topic challenging, or maybe they got a low score on a recent test. Are you starting to worry that frequent failures are causing your child to dislike this essential core subject?
In this article, we'll explore how mistakes in maths can be turned into positive opportunities, and ultimately inspire a love for algebra, zero vectors, and everything in between.
Mistakes Are Inevitable, Especially in Maths
Maths is one of the most challenging of all subjects, if not the most challenging. Because getting to the "right answer" is so important in maths, mistakes, misinterpretations, and miscalculations are common.
Children should learn from an early age that mistakes are part of the learning journey. A wrong answer should never be seen as a failure, but instead, as a logical attempt to get to the right answer.
Learning Through Productive Failure
Imagine this scenario — a teacher sets their class a challenging maths question that they know their students will fail. Your first thought might be that this is cruel and pointless. In fact, this is called productive failure and it could be one of the best ways for your child to learn.
The general idea behind productive failure is to encourage students to call upon the knowledge they already have to solve a problem. The task must be an open task that offers more than one path to the correct answer and should encourage a multitude of ideas to get to the right answer.
Most importantly, because the students are set up to fail, there is no shame in this failure. Instead, this type of failure allows students to understand where they went wrong and also how close they got to the answer by applying preexisting knowledge and skills.
Breaking Down the Problem
Children are usually encouraged to show how they reached the final answer to a maths problem by including their workings. This shows that they understand the process that led them to the answer.
It's highly unlikely that your child will have got the entire logical process wrong when working out a maths problem. By showing their workings, the teacher can show your child what they got right and what they need to work on.
Failure Leads to Growth and Understanding
For students to learn from their mistakes, they need support at school and at home. Learning that their failures are all part of the process and part of their growth will encourage children to view mistakes in a different light.
Remind your child that even the most famous mathematicians and scientists made plenty of mistakes before they reached the answer they were seeking. They got to the right answer because they viewed their mistakes as progress.
Use Maths Mistakes to Shape New Goals
Another way mistakes can be turned into positives is through goal setting. When a child doesn't quite land on the right answer but understands what they are working towards, tutors and teachers can set new goals. This might be learning a new way to tackle the problem or taking more care when following logical steps to find the right answer.
How Hiring a Maths Tutor Can Help
If your child is having a hard time getting to grips with maths, a maths tutor could help them to turn mistakes into learning opportunities. From helping with specific topics to filling gaps in learning, hiring a tutor can help your child to discover their full potential.