How To Teach Basic Math to an Adult

From price comparison to payment decisions, basic math is essential for thriving in a modern society. Not only will you be able to save money on necessities and compute where your salary went, you can also avoid simple fraud committed by charlatans who take advantage of math-impaired people. However, many citizens have little education in arithmetic, and are too embarrassed to learn by themselves. By teaching these adults the practical aspects of math, they can make better economic decisions as well as watch out for pricing errors and dubious financial transactions.

Here are some ideas for teaching basic math to adults.

  • Review your math textbooks. After spending your own adult life applying math to your finances, you will only need to lightly refresh yourself with the aspects of math you don’t get to use in life. Borrow a textbook from the library or view math tutorials online then scan through the pages for tips and techniques.
  • Prepare flashcards for addition and subtraction. A lot of useful arithmetic involves adding and subtracting the same numbers over and over again. Memorizing the sums and differences of any two single-digit numbers can be aided with flashcards.
  • Proceed with the multiplication table. Let the students memorize the times table so they can quickly solve most day-to-day multiplication problems. Use flashcards to help them memorize the twos, threes, fours and so on. You can also use math tricks to help them in multiplication: for example, adding the digits of the product of any number multiplied by 9 will equal to 9, as well. Another example: the product of any number multiplied by 5 will end in 5 or 0. Find these tricks online then teach them to your students.
  • Teach long division. Division is not so difficult once students have mastered their multiplication table. Tell them that division is performing multiplication backwards, when they know the product and the multiplicand and they have to figure out the multiplier. You can also work with visual aids, like dividing eight pencils among four people.
  • Work with fractions, decimals and percentages. These concepts are essential when dealing with expenses and computing salaries. With this in mind, using real-world examples is the best way to teach them to adults. Use coins to represent decimals and demonstrate how they add up.
  • End with a lesson on measurements. Measuring exact quantities by using graded equipment is useful for preparing items based on stated instructions. Let the adults use both the English and Metric sides of a ruler for determining distances. Have them compute the total distance of several measurements using addition.
  • Consider using the Socratic method. The Socratic method involves using a series of questions to lead students into figuring out the solution by themselves. This is effective since while you guide them into the correct answer, only their understanding of the principles and formulas behind the solution will get them to the proper answer. You can either ask individuals to solve problem in its entirety or get the entire group involved with the solution. Applying real-life math problems like computing the total price for a list of grocery items or dividing a bill among four people will make them appreciate the solution all the more.

Encourage the adult students to constantly practice with math in their daily lives. Math will become second nature to them and won’t hesitate to use them to double-check the computation of others, reducing any chances of mistakes or double-dealings.


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