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Adults getting frustrated with the wrong problems of children

One of the main reasons why some children do not score well in Maths is that they are poor in language skills. You might wonder what is the connection. I recently saw a parent posing the question to a child.

"A man goes to a shop and asks for bananas. The shopkeeper says five rupees for each banana. The main bargains hard and asks for four rupees for a banana. The shopkeeper agrees to the price and the man bought one dozen bananas. How much did he pay for it?"

The question was posed in English. The child struggled hard even as the parent read the question three-four times. The parent got exasperated and said, "How much is 12 times 4?". The child immediately said, "48". "Then why did you not solve the problem?"

The child could not solve the problem not because it did not know Maths but because it did not understand English. For instance, the child did not comprehend what the words bargain, bought meant. Since it did not understand some of the words in the problem it got stuck there and the mind went blank.

This is not peculiar to this child. There are many children who can solve a Maths problem if it is given numerically (12*4) but struggle when the problem is given in words.

To solve Maths problems given in English, we have to first teach English comprehension. Children do not understand some words and adults getting frustrated with the wrong issue (my child is weak in Maths) does not help anyone.

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