They roll their eyes, they ignore you, they have an attitude. They are 12 going on 17 and getting them excited about anything that doesn’t involve video games, taking selfies or watching their favorite show can be like pulling teeth. But getting your almost teenagers excited about math is possible, and here are some great tips and links to light a spark in their eyes and foster a positive attitude about math:
- Use real world problems (that your kids care about!)- Many parents, teachers and tutors make the mistake of using real world examples that kids just can’t relate to. Sure, finding out how much interest their retirement fund will make for them over the course of 50 years is a real world situation, but pre-teens don’t care about that. Instead, try challenging your child/students with examples that mean something to them. For example, Kimbra has asked your teen to dance in her latest music video. If your teen is offered $42,000 to dance in a 5-minute video, how much will he be paid per minute of video?
- Join a math club- Wait, wait, wait. We know this sounds sort of nerdy and you may be thinking, “my teen wouldn’t be caught dead as a member of a math club!” But math clubs aren’t always what you see on TV. Many schools offer after school clubs that specialize is making math fun and cool. Instead of sitting around talking about thermos (yawn!) they do experiments, build models, and take field trips to use math in the real world.
- YouTube- teens spend a lot of time on the Internet; why not encourage them to find interesting math videos on YouTube? Videos like this show your child/student how doodling can be mathematical, and videos like this show how math is used in the game of pool. Future film directors will love videos like this that show them how directors use math to make breathtaking movie scenes. If they’re going to be browsing the web anyway, why not use that time to expose them to all of the ways math can be fun and amazing?
- Read About It- Some students argue that they’re “Language Arts” people, they aren’t “math” people. And for those students, we have math books. No, they aren’t going to sit down and read a math textbook. Books like Math Girls and The Number Devil allow book worms to dive deep into a great book about numbers, math and exposes them to math in a way that makes sense to them.
- Take a Field Trip- when the weather is hot, take your child to Wet’ N Wild to experience a day of splashing, playing and math! Point out the physics, speed, velocity and other mathematical aspects that come into play at a water park! Visit a theme park and create real world problems based on roller coasters, wait times, admission prices, etc. We don’t know any kid who would roll their eyes at the opportunity to spend the day at a theme park!
Preteens are in a very moldable and important stage, and setting the tone for a positive attitude in math is essential for their success in higher-level math classes. Counting on their fingers and singing silly math songs is no longer going to cut it, and finding ways to incorporate math into things that matter to them will make all the difference in the world.