Does your child have trouble with math? Scientists reveal the simple change you can make to ease their anxiety on the subject
- Children perform better in math when music is an important part of their lessons
- Music can be especially beneficial for younger children learning basic arithmetic
For every generation of schoolchildren, this is the subject that probably leaves them scratching their heads in despair and staring blankly at the screen of a calculator.
But analysis of nearly 50 years of research suggests that children are better at math when music is an important part of their lessons.
The study indicated that music could have a particularly beneficial effect on younger children learning basic math.
Researchers say this could be because it makes the subject more fun, keeps students engaged, and helps reduce any fear or anxiety they may have.
A team from Antalya Belek University in Turkey combined the results of 55 studies from around the world involving nearly 78,000 young people, from preschoolers to university students.
Analysis of nearly 50 years of research suggests that children perform better in math when music is an important part of their lessons
Three types of musical interventions were included in the analysis.
The first was a typical music lesson, in which children sang, listened to and composed music.
The second was an instrumental musical intervention, where children learned how to play musical instruments, either individually or as part of a band.
Finally, a music-math intervention, in which music was integrated into the math lessons.
Students took math tests before and after participating in the intervention and the change in their scores was compared to that of young people who did not participate in an intervention.
The use of music, either in separate lessons or as part of math lessons, has been associated with greater improvement in math over time.
The integrated lessons had the greatest effect: about 73 percent of the students who had integrated lessons performed significantly better than young people who had no form of musical intervention.
About 69 percent of students who learned to play instruments and 58 percent of students who had normal music lessons made more progress than students without musical intervention.
The results also suggest that music aids math learning more than other types of math and has a greater impact on younger learners and those learning more basic math concepts, the researchers said.
Dr. Ayça Akýn, one of the authors of the study, said math and music have a lot in common, such as the use of symbols.
Arithmetic can lend itself particularly well to being taught through music because core concepts, such as fractions and ratios, are also fundamental to music, she explained.
For example, musical notes of different lengths can be represented as fractions and added together to create multiple measures of music.
“Encouraging math and music teachers to plan lessons together can help reduce student anxiety about math while boosting performance,” added Dr. Akin to it.
The findings were published in the journal Educational Studies.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT LEARNING STYLES?
A popular and long-standing theory in the field of education claims that people, especially children, are more receptive to certain methods of learning.
It states that people often fall into one of three main categories: auditory, visual, and kinesthetic.
There may be crossover between different styles, but a person will prefer one method more, experts claim.
A visually dominant learner absorbs and retains information better when it is presented in images, diagrams, and graphs, for example.
An auditory dominant learner prefers to listen to what is being presented. He or she responds best to voices, for example in a lecture or group discussion.
People often fall into one of three main categories: auditory, visual, and kinesthetic. There may be crossover between different styles, but a person will prefer one method more, experts claim
It is also helpful to hear his/her own voice repeating something to a tutor or trainer.
A kinesthetic-dominant learner prefers a physical experience. She likes a hands-on approach and responds well to being able to touch or feel an object or learning tool.
While it’s been around for a long time and is supported by 96 percent of teachers, recent studies have shown that the concept is inherently flawed.
Many researchers believe that the concept is wrong and that people do not have a preferred method of learning.