Published in El Pais, June 8th 2019.
Many people grow up hating mathematics and this idea many often defines their life. For children to like mathematics from their primary school onward, you must teach by playing. Nowadays, there are more ludic options to teach mathematical principles which will be deepened at high school and university.
For example, if we want to teach geometric figures there are at least 9 options. First, go out with the pupils and collect the cactus stalk, peel it and form geometric figures. The second one is to form a Tangram puzzle so that they learn by playing with the figures. A third is to make the geometric figures with paper and assemble them in 3D. A fourth is, with toys that the children bring and try to find the different geometric figures within. A fifth is to assemble a robot of recycled carton boxes to observe the figures. A sixth is to ask the children to observe and draw every geometric figure they can find in their homes. A seventh is to draw the figures on a cardboard and stick corn, wheat or beans on it. The eight one is to go out into the garden (rural schools produce their vegetables) and assemble or draw large figures on the ground so that the children can measure the perimeter by counting steps. Finally, there is the traditional one to advance in the notebook with the geometric figures. In all the options, it is important to calculate the perimeter by measuring and annotating the numbers to then add or assign a letter to it and make algebraic sums.
As you can see, there are many ways to teach and teachers must use in all these ways or more. This is a principle of respecting the idea that each child has different preferences to learn. If we do, we will be teaching the mathematical foundations for children to love mathematics. The benefits beyond mathematics are that it also reflects on the use of technology (use of materials), natural sciences (observation of plants outside the classroom), language (to produce a text), social (talk about where these plants exists in our country), music (invent a song of our work), English (relating what was learned).
With all this, you can generate many positive actions: recycle material, implement spaces to play, promote children’s creativity, develop their logical-mathematical reasoning and above all, include all children who like the abstract, the ones who like to learn by watching and touching and the ones who like ludic ways.