In the last post I have written about how hints are not helpful to learn Math and problem solving skills. What could be helpful though? We need to start thinking about other alternatives to solving regular Math problems.

Can we teach a new concept and ask kids to make new problems on the concept, rather than solving the given problems? Can they come up with their own word problems? That will encourage them to apply the concepts to real life situations. For example, when kids learn about percentages, they can think of many situations to use it such as 15% discount on some product, 5% price hike or percentage of their marks in the exam and so on.

Often we give all the necessary information to solve a problem and ask children to substitute the values in a formula and calculate the answer. There is nothing to think, nothing to wonder, nothing to evaluate and hence it becomes a boring task. Instead, can we discuss a situation, with lots of unknowns, where children get to ask questions, seek information and then calculate the answer? For example, can children plan a class trip? They will need to ask lots of questions like the bus fare, the possibility of a group discount, other modes of transport and so on. Suddenly it becomes a lively, interesting discussion with practical application of Math skills even if it is an imaginary trip.

One of the best Math activities is to watch cricket matches together with kids. We can do a number of calculations like the required run rate, the bowler’s average, the batsman’s strike rate and have real fun at it! You can see how the required run rate goes up when the bowlers are dominating and goes down when the batting side is doing well. Have you tried it anytime?