Application of Primary Math
As a teacher, I frequently have students asking me variations of “why would I ever need to buy 50 watermelons?” or “why do I need to learn this?”. Having been in their shoes, I understand their confusion and frustration.
A lot of the time, we are presented with unrealistic scenarios in Math questions. This may make Math feels abstract and unrelatable. How often would we ever need to purchase 450 pencils and repack them into packets of 5, or when will we collect 1152 stamps and give some to our friends, then ask how much that friend has afterwards? Almost never.
However, it’s crucial for parents to show our children how Math is applied in day-to-day life. From budgeting for groceries to calculating tips at a restaurant, Math is an essential tool that can help us make informed decisions and navigate the world around us. By providing real-life examples, we can help our children see the practical uses of Math and appreciate its importance beyond the classroom.
Lower Primary: Application of Primary Math your child should be familiar with
Start your child early in Math education
We cannot stress enough how important it is to introduce Math education to your child at a young age. A strong foundation in Math is essential for your child to do well. However, many students struggle to understand the concept of mass and length. But there are ways we can help them grasp these concepts through concrete examples and activities in daily life.
For example, can you guess the length of a pencil, given these three choices: 15 cm, 15 m and 15 km? As adults, we may not be able to guess its exact length, but we would definitely be able to rule out the pencil being 15m or 15km long. This is because we have an estimate of how long 1cm or 1m is to be able to compare. However, young children who are not explicitly introduced to concrete examples of length struggle to grasp this. It may seem obvious to us, but to them, they cannot apply it to the things around them without a firm grasp of how long a centimetre or metre is. The same goes for mass. Although we cannot look at something and guess exactly how heavy it is, we can still give a rough estimate that would not be too far off the mark.
By introducing concrete examples and activities in daily life, we can help children to grasp these concepts more easily. For example, getting them to measure things around the house or keep tabs on their own height can help with the concept of length. Getting them to help carry lighter packets of cooking ingredients such as rice, sugar, and flour could also be a good introduction to mass.
Start early and provide them with a strong foundation of Math. It will set them up for success in the future.
Help your child see Mathematical links by using “Math Language” when possible
As parents of primary children, it is important to help your child see the relevance of mathematics in everyday life. One way to do this is to consistently use “Math language” when possible. A simple way to do this is by using comparative words. In lower primary school, many problem sum questions are related to someone having more than or less than someone else.
For example, consider the question, “Tim has 20 marbles. Sam has 50 more marbles than Tim. How many marbles does Sam have?” While we are able to understand that Sam has more marbles, students who do not have a firm grasp of “more than” will get confused as to who ends up having more and who has less. This becomes an even bigger problem when more people are introduced, as in the question, “Tim has 20 marbles. Sam has 50 more marbles than Tim. Max has 15 less marbles than Sam. How many marbles does Max have?”
By introducing comparative words in daily conversations with your child, you can help them understand the concept of “more than” and “less than.” This can be tied in with mass and length as well. You can ask your child which item is heavier (more heavy) or longer (more long) than the other to help them understand these concepts better. Even sports games can also be used to illustrate this by seeing which team won based on who has more points. Encouraging your child to see Math in daily life will help them develop a strong foundation in Math and set them up for success in their academic journey.
Upper Primary: Application of Primary Math your child should be familiar with
Explain to them real-life applications of Mathematical concepts
For older children, it’s important to explain how Math is interconnected with real life situations. Even though the problem scenarios might seem far-fetched, the skills they learn in Math are critical for daily life.
One way to expose children to Math in real life is by introducing them to the concept of money. By discussing their expenses, children can see how mathematical concepts plays an important role in everyday transactions. For instance, if a child is given $10 every day, using $4 will leave them with $6, which can be calculated through subtraction. To determine how much money they will get over the course of a month, the easiest method is to multiply. In addition, if a child wants to know how many 50 cent coins they would need to buy a $5 toy, they can practice division. By showing children how Math is applied to everyday scenarios, they can develop a better appreciation for the subject and its importance in real-life.
Introduce “Math Language” to highlight the application of Primary Math to them
In Upper Primary levels, Problem Sum questions often involve the concept of rates which can be confusing for students. These questions usually require the “quantity x value” heuristic, which is commonly tested in the PSLE. While rates are a concept used in real life, the increment words such as “part thereof,” “next,” and “per additional xxx amount” in the following parts can stump students. Introducing “Math language” can help students understand better. For instance, instead of saying “next,” we could use “the next increase of.” By using Math language, students can better grasp the problem and develop a clearer understanding of the concept of rates.
Application of Primary Math #1: Parking Rates
The usage of the words “part thereof” causes confusion as students may never have heard these words used before. To use an analogy to help explain, students can be told that when we buy a cake, we pay $2. But if we want a part of it (a slice or piece), then we would still have to pay $1 for it.
Application of Primary Math #2: Postage Rates
Another example of a rate question could come from postage rates.
“Per additional step” is like “part thereof” and helps students understand different ways to express the same concept. Similarly, “add” and “plus” both mean the same thing. Knowing the different phrasings can aid students in understanding questions and what they need to do.
We come across many objects and situations in our daily lives that involve Math, but we often overlook them. For instance, parking fees, discounts, and time management require Math calculations. As parents, we should encourage children to reflect on these things and recognize Math’s significance in their daily lives.
Math becomes more important as we age. Precise measurements are necessary for cooking and baking, while planning and budgeting require calculations. Children should know that Math concepts they learn have practical uses. Parents can show real-life examples of Math to help children appreciate the subject and see its significance. This prevents children from thinking that Math is just an abstract idea.
Read Also: PSLE Math: Detailed Analysis & Breakdown