“When did you get up this morning? At 6.35. Did you reach your destination in time? Yes, I arrived ten minutes earlier even though I got up five minutes late. I usually walk but today I took a bus. Why not a taxi? Isn’t it faster? Faster, yes. But in my case the speed of the bus was sufficient. Besides I compared the fares of the two means of transport and concluded that taking a taxi would mean incurring unnecessary expenditure.
Wow! What a clever guy! Saves money, saves time.
However he is just an ordinary guy who just is confident about calculations which can be used in day to day life. Let me suggest some ideas which you can use yourself or help your young ones to enhance maths skills and gain similar confidence –
Tip #1: Do calculations mentally in everyday life
You should go grocery shopping and try to beat the shop-keeper in his speed of calculation. Try this especially with fruit or vegetable vendors. Mostly they are very good at basic calculations as they don’t use calculators. Try to understand their way of making mental calculations. The secret of their speed is that they break down the calculations to a level of simplicity they can handle. For example, you purchased 650 grams of bitter gourd priced at Rs.35 per kg. Their mode of calculation will be to start with the price of 100 grams i.e. Rs.3.5. Hence 600 grams will be 3.5*6 = 21 + (price of 50 grams which is 3.5/2) = 21 + 1.75 = 22.75
In super markets or merchandise shops you will often find 50% or 40% or 10% off. Use such small opportunities to learn discounting, rounding off, percentage calculations, etc.
Tip #2: Do not stick to text books
Text books can be monotonous and hence make things boring at times. Use newspapers and magazines to read and interpret and explain the usage of graphs and charts like bar chart, pie chart, line chart, histogram, etc. Regular exposure to such things can make understanding statistics simpler in future.
Tip #3: Memorize few things
If you want to achieve the speed of a train, you can’t use wheels that are fit for a bullock cart. What I want to say is that if you want to achieve good speed in calculations you need to mug up few things listed below to make your foundation strong –
- Memorize tables up till 20×20. This multiplication method can come handy.
- Squares of numbers up till 25
- Cube of numbers up till 15
- Powers of 2 up till 10
- Powers of 3 up till 5
Tip #4: Play Number Games
Some board games like Monopoly can help in strategic thinking as well as improve basic calculation skills. Playing cards games which involve certain amount of calculations can help you in improving your speed of calculation without you realizing about it.
Permutation & Combination and Probability can be taught using coins, dice and playing cards. To make it more challenging use two or more coins, dice, etc. Start with listing down all possibilities. Then try to answer questions like, what is more likely 7 or 12 when 2 dices are rolled.
Play number guessing games with your friends. Make it time bound. One example to start with can be, the number is between 50 and 100 and it is a multiple of both 8 and 9. It can be real fun playing such games.
Tip #5: Get Help from Internet
There are a lot of resources available for free on the internet. You must use these websites to improve your maths skills. Most of them make it very interesting material and are available for free.
Tip #6: Read Quicker Maths Books
In one of the past articles I’ve given a list of quick math books which will make you fall in love with numbers and various intricacies of mathematics without becoming boring at any stage.
Tip #7: Solve Puzzles and Riddles Regularly
Solving puzzles gives a feeling of handling a real life problem. It gives us the enthusiasm to think logically, do required calculations, to look at all the possibilities, reject few and make decisions. All these are prerequisites for acquiring good mathematics skills. This is one of the reasons why I chose to put up a separate section on puzzles and riddles on Quicker Maths
You can also start solving Sudokus, if you are not already doing that. Do it for the fun of it.
Tip #8: Keep Learning New Mathematics Memory Tricks
Not being able to recall important maths formula at the time of application is one of the big deterrents for students. To become good at remembering such formulae mnemonic, memory tricks and methods like these can be used –
- Memory technique for trigonometry ratios
- Trigonometry formula memorization trick
- Finding value of Sin and Cos using fingers
This list is by no means an exhaustive list. You can keep trying new things to overcome the fear of maths. However, the first step is to acknowledge the fear and take it heads on. Don’t be scared of making mistakes. Even when you’re helping someone, don’t discourage them when mistakes happen. Tell them to explain the steps adopted by them to solve the problem. Let them figure out where they made the mistake. Once that is taken care of explore this list to overcome the fear of Mathematics gradually.
Let us know how you overcame your fear for maths?