Remember when you learned how to count? Actually, you probably don’t… No one does! That’s because the process of learning how to count never actually ends. Even if you get good at the basic stuff, there are always new formulas, applications, and numerical patterns to adopt. But of course, we all had to start somewhere, and beginnings are most important! Speaking of beginnings, let’s think for a second about children. How children are introduced to the idea of arithmetic and numerical understanding will ultimately shape their future. And how many ways can you think of to practice using numbers?
Arithmetic is a principal part of mathematics with use at every tier. This article explains the importance of arithmetic for all math learners and highlights effective ways of integrating it into the learning process.
What is Arithmetic?
The word ‘arithmetic’ originates from the Greek word arithmos, which means ‘number’. Arithmetic is an older, basic form of mathematics that involves the study of numbers and their operations or calculations – namely, addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. But wholly, it includes all other functions and operations of numbers (like PEMDAS = parenthesis, exponents, multiplication, division, addition, subtraction). Based on the definition of conventional mathematics, it is impossible to perform math without the use of arithmetic.
The Importance of Arithmetic
Arithmetic is the foundation of all the more advanced forms of math and the part of mathematics that people are most familiar with. So why is arithmetic important anyway?
The first and most obvious reason is survivability. Money and numbers go hand-in-hand. The better you can work with numbers, the better you can manage your own time and money. All daily transactions require Arithmetic – buying groceries from the market, scheduling appointments, calculating gas prices, etc.. But it doesn’t end with the day-to-day responsibilities.
What’s more, arithmetic is one of the most widely applied global languages and has been since long ago. Everyone on the planet uses some form of currency and the base 10 numeral system. That’s what arithmetic is all about! Someone who’s good with numbers can apply their skills in any country. And so, arithmetic goes beyond local linguistics. Good arithmetic is a bridge to global opportunity.
When kids learn to master numbers (or at least become comfortable with them) from an early age, they increase their self-confidence. That’s important to develop early on so that a fear of manipulating numbers doesn’t trouble them as they grow through life. And when it comes to arithmetic, just like everything else, it’s not hard if you learn it the right way!
Fun Fact: The same underlying cognitive abilities are used in the development of both arithmetic and reading. In other words, if a child (or anyone) improves their arithmetic ability, they’ll improve their reading ability too! Talk about getting two for the price of one!
Learning How to Count
Simple counting practice starts from an early age, as the natural order of teaching children would have it. We all know the standard stuff, but maybe not the more effective niche techniques to improve arithmetic. Here are some additional tips for teaching children how to count:
- Use recursive patterns to demonstrate the relationships or patterns between numbers themselves. The Fibonacci Sequence is a great starter example of such a pattern.
- Have students count numbers both forward and backward, including having them count by a certain number (for example, counting by 3s). Also, try starting from a number other than zero to introduce new counting patterns to the thinker.
- Time students during each counting practice as part of your curriculum. Remember to keep in mind that the only competition is yourself.
- Play the ‘I see 10’ game with the kids, see here to learn more about it.
The most important part of teaching mathematics is encouraging the learner to appreciate the value of math itself. That goes for any subject. In terms of math, this builds a healthy relationship between the learner and numbers. From there, students easily acquire interest and confidence which propels the learning process even more. Be sure to remind your students about real-world situations when they’ll need to use their math skills. Encourage their enthusiasm by taking the learning out of the classroom!
Remember not everyone learns at the same level, but absolutely everyone can learn! Be patient with those students who may be slow to pick up a new skill. Through repetition, they will get it, and repetition brings forth mastery!