Parents and teachers are often faced with the same question about math from kids: “Why do I need to know this?!” Whether the students are referring to math as a whole or a specific (usually complicated) concept, many children and teenagers don’t understand how certain math skills will help them later in life.
Aside from passing a test or getting a high mark on the SATs, many math concepts won’t ever be used again, right? Not necessarily. Read on to find out how to field difficult questions about the importance of math.
The Truth Is…
…parents sometimes wonder the same thing when they’re helping their kids out with math homework. “I’ve never needed to know this in my adult life,” you may think to yourself. Even if you’re right, though, this attitude has a negative effect on your child. After all, what’s to say that your young student won’t eventually be employed in an industry that does require strong math skills? Just because a parent doesn’t use certain concepts in their job or day to day life, that doesn’t mean their child won’t. The more a child is encouraged to excel at math, the more job opportunities they’ll have in the future.
*You don’t even realize you’re using math when…
…you play video games, go shopping or cook a meal. With solid math skills, you’ll know how many points you have to gain to beat your buddy in your favorite video game; you can compare prices as you shop to score the best deal; you can easily substitute ingredients in a recipe if you don’t have everything you need in your pantry. At times like these, math – specifically, algebra – comes in extremely helpful.
Without Math, There Is No Money
As children get older, land their first real jobs and move out on their own, they’ll need math on an almost daily basis. Sure, a calculator can be used to work out a monthly budget, figure out how much spending money is left over every week or keep track of nickels and dimes at the grocery store, but life is a lot easier when machines aren’t depended on, especially for something as simple as basic addition and subtraction.If a teen ever says something like, “I don’t need math, I have a calculator on my cell phone!” remind them that without math skills, they won’t be able to use their money wisely.
Money talks, especially with teenagers who are just getting their first glimpse of financial independence. Being able to figure out basic percentages and fractions with nothing more than a pencil and paper (or, better yet, their brains) will serve teens well as they open a savings account, work their first minimum wage job and figure out if they can afford college. When a calculator isn’t readily available or a solution is needed on the spot, math skills will go far.
Math and Problem Solving
You may understand why basic math skills are important in everyday life, but what about those long, drawn out, confusing math problems? “I only need to learn this for math class!” is a common gripe amongst students. Math skills, though, teach much more than how to handle numbers, even if you don’t notice it as you go about your day. A person who’s good at math has an easier time solving real life problems.
Reasoning, logic and order are learned as complicated math problems are tackled. Since math equations are predictable so long as you follow the right steps to get to the answer, this teaches discipline of the mind. In adult life, some businesses prefer to hire math majors because they believe that the graduate will know how to think. Critical thinking skills are honed in math class and students learn to explain how they arrived at a certain answer.
Noelle Eberts has a passion for connecting children to the possibilities that math can unlock. She writes independently for www.mathnook.com/ and is a great resource for all kinds of kid’s math games. Noelle is a part-time math tutor and a full-time Mom!