Years ago I had a class on early education where the author recounted how Rabbis used to make school enjoyable. After a little research I found this article, from which I have chosen a few excerpts.
Around the twelfth century a custom developed in Germany of bringing a child to school for the first time. [. . .] The rabbi reads every letter of the alef-bet and the child repeats after him.
Then the rabbi puts a little honey on the slate and the child licks the honey from the letters with his tongue. A child who licks honey from a slate [. . .] will immediately understand that the Torah is “as sweet as honey”.
Since attitude is a big part of education, let’s do what we can to make learning enjoyable. Here are a few ideas that may help to prime the pump.
Perhaps you could begin every day with what some schools call “free exploration.” Encourage your students to play with their blocks for 10 minutes to begin each class.
Or, take the number of the date, and express it in different ways. For example, if it is September 5th, use the 5 and express that number as 2 + 3 = 5, or 4 + 1 = 5, or 6 – 1 = 5, or 2 x 2 + 1 = 5, or 10 ÷ 2 = 5. You could do this with all of your scholars around the breakfast table and see the older and younger students each use their skill set to contribute a suggestion.
The most important thing we can do as parents is like math ourself. Children tune into what we think about a subject. Attitudes are caught not taught. I hope you had a positive experience with math, but I know that many of you struggled when you were a student.
Think of this as a fresh start, or a new beginning. Pray for God to give you an open mind as you begin the new year. Think of yourself as a co-learner with your children. Remember, you have the advantage of many years of training and a generation of experience applying math in real life situations.
When in doubt, take a deep breath and fake it 🙂 I am sure you will do fine.
Lick the honey and have a good time with math.