Getting your teenager interested in maths
By using real world context and engaging resources you can encourage your teenager to enjoy maths and pay more attention to this important subject during class.
What to do when your teen doesn’t enjoy maths
You can try to actively support your teen enjoying mathematics and seeing its relevance to everyday life.
Being able to think mathematically is a key skill your teen will use and being mathematically confident - in making informed decisions and assessing risk - benefits their wellbeing.
Mathematical proficiency is something that is valuable in all careers, and will help your teen progress in their chosen field.
Numerous obstacles can stand in the way of teenagers enjoying maths. The most common issues include:
- Credibility – Though mathematics is a rich, interesting and satisfying subject, some teenagers label it as ‘uncool’. To try and fit in with their peers, your child may not want to be seen giving maths too much attention.
- Lack of confidence – Mathematics often involves formulas and equations with different steps, which can lead some teenagers to feel a little overwhelmed.
- Questions about the relevance of maths – Many teenagers complain that they will never use the mathematics they learn.
Bringing maths to life
Teachers have classroom techniques to try and engage reluctant students in maths learning, but parental involvement makes a huge difference.
Your attitude to maths will influence how your teenager approaches the subject, so even if you disliked maths at school, don’t say so. Instead, try the following tactics to make mathematics more accessible, relevant and enjoyable to your teen:
- Talk to your teenager about what they’re studying in maths every week - listening to them and allowing them to teach you will support their understanding. If they’re struggling with particular areas or types of equations, work out where they are getting stuck and use online resources to help
- Take every opportunity to point out ways that mathematics helps us every day – such as coding for computers, taking the right dose of medicine and tracking the number of kilometres travelled when driving a car
- Encourage your teenager to play interactive educational mathematics games on sites like Mathletics
- Learn about maths from movies and TV. Films like ‘Apollo 13’ and ‘Hidden Figures’, which show how mathematics helped astronauts get to the moon and back. Watch documentaries about inspiring mathematicians, such as Einstein or Hypatia or Alan Turing
- Involve your teenager in financial activities. Ensure they have a bank account that accrues interest and encourage them to check the calculations against their bank statements. Give them receipts and ask them to track the family shopping budget. A website such as MoneySmart can help with this
- Offer your child extra pocket money to help you do your tax. Direct them to the government Tax, Super+You website so they can get some background information.
- Support what they are learning by encouraging them to watch informative and engaging maths videos and tutorials, such as Eddie Woo and Crash Course on YouTube, and the Khan Academy website
- Point out to your teenager that sticking with their maths studies could be a pathway to a rewarding and lucrative career as an architect, astronomer, computer scientist or physicist, to name just a few.
- Lastly, it’s worth reminding your teenager how their maths learning helps to develop 21st century skills. Whether it’s communication and critical thinking skills or problem-solving abilities, these are all important ingredients for success in our rapidly changing world.
Speak with the teacher
If you have any questions or concerns about your teenager’s maths learning or what else you can do at home, make an appointment to speak to the class teacher. They will have the best understanding of your child’s learning journey.
For more detailed information about the NSW maths curriculum, visit the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) website