Is it a problem? When it comes to maths do not call it a problem otherwise it will be!

The words you use can have a tremendous affect on how we view something. Do you notice how when a child is given maths homework that the written questions are often called ‘problems’.

How do you feel when you think of a problem? It is something that you think of as an easy thing to deal with or do you think of a problem as being difficult, an obstacle to be overcome?

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A friend of mine asked my advice because he could not motivate his son to do any maths problems at home. After talking to his son I told him that the ‘problem’ is in fact the ‘problem’. The problem was the use of the words ‘maths problems’ and that there was an easy way to motivate his son to enjoy and do maths. Here is what I did.

I set my friend a question for his son and told him to tell his son that had a ‘puzzle’ for him. Straight away his son’s reaction was different and he attempted to work out the answer. The boy was motivated to solve the ‘puzzle’.

The question I set was taken from an exam paper on which it was called ‘a problem’. There is not a huge difference between the words problem and puzzle in the dictionary but when people speak about those words they dislike problems and yet love puzzles just like my friend’s son did.

If you want your children to do more difficult maths questions at home then don’t call them problems instead call them ‘puzzles’.  Remember to choose your words wisely. They have the power to affect the actions of your children.

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