Why Worry About Math Vocabulary?

Posted by Tiara Swinson on December 03, 2018

Math has it's own language. Does your child know it?Math is often separated from English for being a language of numbers and symbols rather than of words and sentences, but this commonly held belief is far from the truth. Math, though driven by numbers, has a rich vocabulary of words used to convey the purpose of equations and how to find a solution. However, even adults stumble over the vocabulary of math, and a lack of fluency in this "language" can hamper the development of math skills in children as they learn new material. How can mathematic vocabulary build your child's math skills?

Knowing Math Vocabulary Helps You Understand the Problems

Children learning math often struggle to master word problems, and having a stronger grasp of math vocabulary can help them pick out keywords to solve the problem. Even outside of word problems, understanding the language of math can help children clarify what they need to do solving equations, because they will have a stronger understanding of what the question is asking them to do.

Everyday Words Have a Different Meaning Within the Context of Math

This is a fact that frequently trips up kids who don't have a strong grasp of math vocabulary yet. Words like "difference," or "product," are essential in mathematical problem solving, but they have a different meaning within the language of math than they do in the broader English language. Additionally, there are mathematical terms that sound similar to other words, such as "discrete," and "discreet."

Understanding the nuances of mathematical terms and how they differ from the standard usage of the same words is important to ensure children don't get confused about the meaning of the terminology they're trying to learn.

Math Vocabulary Gives You a Stronger Foundation for Advanced Math

Math is a subject that builds upon itself. Strong skill in addition and subtraction becomes strong skill in multiplication and division, then, algebra, then calculus, and beyond. By training children to understand the language of mathematics, even early on, it helps them learn more advanced math as they grow.

Understanding the meaning behind mathematical terms is essential for laying a strong foundation in math. When your child has a strong understanding of mathematical vocabulary, they have a stronger understanding of math itself, and they are more likely to succeed in their math classes now and in the future.

Topics: Math Skills, Math Tools, Math Anxiety

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