By Deanna Hurn, Executive Director of Miracle Math Coaching.
Today’s tip for helping your child with Math:
Teach them Philosophy!
Didn’t see that coming, did you? But forget all that high-minded stuff about Plato and Socrates. What I’m talking about is much easier than that. Introducing children to Philosophy is as simple as encouraging them to ask questions about their world. (The Greek translation of “Philosophy” is “Love of Wisdom.”)
So what does all of this have to do with Multiplication and Algebra? In a study of more than 3,000 middle school students in Great Britain, those who participated in a Philosophy class increased their Math scores by the equivalent of two months teaching. And the Philosophy class had nothing to do with Math; instead, it allowed students to discuss such topics as truth, justice, friendship and knowledge.
The results make sense. A child who actively interacts with her world by questioning, brainstorming, challenging, considering and communicating about it all is expanding her mind. The brain is like a muscle, and she’s giving it a great workout. That sharpens her overall ability to learn. Bring on the Fractions!
Many children are inquisitive on their own. They want to know where rain comes from, why birds fly and where people go when they die. Thank goodness for Google. But before powering up the iPad, engage your kids in a discussion (help them exercise their brain). What’s their best guess of the answer? Why? Why might that guess be wrong? Just get them talking about the possibilities.
Here are a few questions you can pose to have a “philosophical” discussion (or just to get them to use their brain):
- What does your dog (or cat or parrot) think about all day?
- What does it mean to be a best friend? What things would you do to help your best friend? What things would you not do even if it helped your best friend? Why would you not do them?
- If you had the choice between ice cream and cake, which would you rather have for every meal for a year? Why that choice? What would be the benefits of that diet? The downside?
- If you could give a gift to every child in the world, what gift would it be? Why?
- Why does time move slowly sometimes and quickly at other times?
- If you could go back and change one historic event, what would it be and why?
- How would you explain the concept of “truth” to someone from another planet?
- What is beauty (without using the words “pretty,” “gorgeous,” etc.)?
Of course, there are no right answers. For some questions, you might even ask them to argue the opposite of what they believe. Embracing philosophy is a great example of, “It’s the journey, not the destination.” Take your children on an adventure of the mind, leading them to think about ideas and concepts they might never have considered on their own.
Other philosophical concepts to explore include fairness, happiness, love, good vs. bad, the future and relationships. Feel free to throw a Math puzzler in there, too, ie “How many jelly beans would it take to fill up a bathtub?”
Hope this was helpful, parents. My girls ask me a ton of questions all the time, and, when in doubt, I just say, “ Go ask your, Dad. He knows !” LOL.
If you need help or enjoyed any of the above, give me a buzz or set up a meeting for a free evaluation on our website or have your kids join us for the only Math Summer Camp in Fairfield! Click here for details, enjoy your summer break, and remember to let the questions roll!