Math Anxiety is very real, and it can have very negative effects on your entire world. You may say “oh, I’m no good at math” as your reasoning for not becoming a treasurer in your committee. Or is “I hate math” is the reason you don’t get a tax refund. If your worry about having to perform calculations steams from the idea that you simply aren’t good at math, then you are likely going to pass that fear on to your kids. Of course, kids can develop this fear all on their own! So, what can you do to help them, and yourself, build confidence with skills in mathematics?
As an adult, often the fear of math steams from having a particular “blind spot”. Maybe you never got the hang of remembering your three-times-table. Or maybe subtraction always left you confused. Then there’s fractions. These issues all steam from our education system having to churn out the curriculum often faster than everyone can keep up. Sadly, this hasn’t changed from the time our grandparents were at school to know.
Worse, kids now have so much going on and so many distractions that there seems to be little time to do anything about helping them keep up (or catch up). Thankfully, there’s an app for everything! Including helping children (and adults) develop an understanding and love for math.
1. Khan Academy
For adults, start with Khan Academy. Start right back at the Pre-K level. You might think that’s ridiculous, but it’s the best way to find out that you really never got the hang of adding 73 + 27. Your gaps probably start much earlier than you realise.
There are more topics than just math, but that’s where we are starting. Khan Academy has also developed a really an app for children.
Khan Academy has a focus on understanding the theory behind the answer. To this end each section uses videos to show you step by step how to reach an answer. Because there is always more than one way to get to the answer in math, they will actually show you several different methods. While younger children may find this confusing, adults and older children tend to have more “ah-ha!” moments when they find a method that resonates.
Lessons are progressive, with videos at every stage, and helpful tips if you get stuck.
Brainzy is the app version of https://www.education.com/. This one is more for kids as it stops at a grade 8 level. However, it is game based learning, so really good fun – and many of the games are perfect for adults to enjoy too. They also have typing if that’s something that you’ve always wished you learned.
There is a strong emphasis on learning through repetition, which is particularly helpful for ‘basic facts’. Knowing at a glance that 7+3=10 and that 5+1=6 makes being able to quickly calculate 75+31 easier (106 for those playing at home).
3. Sushi Monster
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt produce this free app for iOS and Android. It’s a fun, pulse raising way to improve your working memory, number fact recall, and time management skills.
The object of the game is to add (or subtract or multiple) numbers in order to reach a ‘target number’. But there’s a trick – you have a limited number of sushi plates (with numbers on them), and you have several different target numbers. So, you also have to be able to think ahead a little.
It’s one of the educational games that you will often find in schools. Although generally this is an option for a fun ‘free time’ activity rather than any form of actual schoolwork. Play-based learning is important!
4. Math Slide
Play this on a tablet with up to four players for ‘family fun’. Math Slide from Maths Adventures has several different versions focusing on either addition and subtraction or multiplication and division. The app is designed to help improve fast number fact recall, which improves math ability and confidence, as well as memory.
The concept is pretty simple. Players are presented with a math equation that they have to answer. However, it may be presented as two dice that have to be added, a number board with colored squares or even fingers on hands to be counted. So, Math Slide isn’t simply drilling you on mathematical equations but providing you with real world uses for your basic fact mastery, even if you don’t realise it at the time.
Why is sudoku here? It’s not a math game. In fact, it has nothing to do with math at all. The object of sudoku is to put the numbers 1-9 in a box making sure that there is only one of each number on any line. There is no mathematics involved at all. More, just because you are good at math doesn’t mean you will be good at Sudoku, or that if you are good at Sudoku you will be good at math.
Sudoku is a logic game. However, it’s included in this list because we’re talking about enjoy math, and part of that is enjoying numbers. Playing games that use numbers can increase your enjoyment of math in general.
There are a lot of free version of Sudoku, as well as paper-based ones in most newspapers.
Other number based games that you could also look at include dot-to-dot (some of them are specifically designed for adults, so don’t think they are easy) or games like “match” where you are moving match sticks to make shapes.
Numbers can be fun, if you have always thought that you just aren’t any good at math, maybe it’s time to rethink that.