Updated: Jan 10, 2020
Help Kids Learn Math and STEM Concepts Through Their Love of Stories
So we all agree that math is important? Our everyday life involves so much more math than we are aware of. We recognise patterns, measure ingredients to bake a cake, add up bills and so on. I have a friend who can calculate restaurant bills much faster than any of us... she is, of course, by profession an accountant. I've always thought that she chose to pursue the career because of her natural inclination towards numbers. However, in recent years, I've come to realise that you don't need to be a "numbers" person to use math effectively.
I do believe that people with natural inclinations toward math/science may allow them to better master the subject. However, I do believe that their mastery of the subject is also largely driven by their interest in the subject. Which is why I also believe you can be good in both the creative arts and STEM subjects. It's all about cultivating the right interests.
There has been an increasing number of studies showing the importance of early childhood math skills and how it affects future academic performance. Many of these research articles support the idea that early math skills not only promote future mathematics achievements but those in other future academic fields. We all want our children to have the broadest career and life options in the future and hence providing them with adequate motivation to learn math and science is important.
So how does storytelling come into play? As a parent, I have observed that my child has no qualms about picking up a story book and cozying up next to me on the couch to enjoy a bonding session over reading. However, the opposite can be said for maths activities. It is not often that she would pick up a math activity book no matter how attractive the book looks. It takes much more encouragement and guidance to get her started on any math activity.
Overtime (and with more effort on my part to focus on math learning), I've observed her excitement of learning something new and sense of empowerment provided by this new skill and knowledge. I see this pattern repeat again and again. Each time this happens, I become more aware of the importance of encouraging and developing her love for learning. More importantly, that I must not be fearful of math and what seems difficult to master. As they say, our brain is a muscle and the more we train the stronger it gets.
Back to storytelling. Stories helps us make sense of the world and remember things. Stories evokes emotions and stimulates different areas of the brain helping us remember the information better. The same can be said of applying storytelling to math. Kids loves stories. They love to listen to them and tell them. Storytelling is a fantastic way to help kids remember or be engaged in mathematical concepts. So get creative and start telling stories to your kids to help them with learning math or use storybooks you already have.
Here are some ideas to incorporate math through reading and fun:
Point out the number of objects that are of a certain colour, shape
Get them to compare the sizes, heights and lengths of objects, people, animals, etc
Ask them simple questions such as "If 2 of the apples fell from the tree, how many are there left on the tree?"
Use math storybooks such as those recommended here
We would also like to take this opportunity to share the launch of our new math storybook series, "Peppy and Lil' Lili's Math-Ventures". It follows the adventures of two adorable little alien monsters travelling around Earth. By helping them solve math puzzles, you bring the closer to fulfilling their mission. The stories also introduce different geographical and cultural facts of each country they visit. Also, please leave us a review if you liked what you've read or would like to share some improvements so that we can make the next book in the series better.
Do share with us if you have more ideas and articles relevant to this topic.
“The universe is made of stories, not of atoms”
-poet Muriel Rukeyser.