Teaching Tips - Math - For Children

Why Correct Answers Matter - Math Motivation

For Your Real Problems, Only the Correct Answer Matters

The purpose of learning math, is so you can use it to solve your own problems (in the real world).

When you are using math, you only want the correct answer.

Problem Examples

In any of the following activities, would you be happy if you did not get the correct answer?

  • Counting or adding up your money.
  • Paying for an item at a store (what if they charged you twice the price).
  • A doctor or nurse was calculating the dose for your medicine.
  • A bank was calculating the mortgage loan for your new house (what if a small error caused you to pay several thousand dollars more in interest charges).

  • You were changing the size of a recipe, to make more servings (what if you got the wrong amount for just one of the ingredients - it could taste awful).
  • You were calculating how much fuel your car needed to get to the next station (it could be a long walk if you get this calculation wrong).

  • Calculating how many pieces of birthday cake each person gets, at a birthday party (children can get very disappointed if you get this number wrong).
  • Figuring out how much food to make for each person for supper.
  • Calculating how long to cut a piece of wood for a book shelf you are making.
  • Calculating how much cloth you needed to make a new outfit (too much cloth and you pay extra, too little cloth and you waste time going back to the store for more).

In any of these examples, and many more in the real world, most of us do not want anything but the correct answer. We want the math done perfectly, every time.


When using math in the real world, to solve your own problems, the correct answer is the only answer that matters. You don't want any incorrect answers. The correct answer is the only answer you want. It's really worth learning how to do math correctly.

If this seems like a very difficult task, it's really not that bad. And we have lots of other special math tips on this site to help you learn to do math correctly.

For Parents

I carefully explain this concept to the child, regularly. I try to explain exactly why they need to do math perfectly, for their own benefit, so they take their time and learn it well, and do it well.

Give them lots of encouragement to do their math perfectly. Be patient with them, and teach them to be patient with themselves, as they learn. Learning can be hard work, especially with math, where we all know the real standard is to get the right answer for our own problems.

Give them lots of encouragement when they make mistakes. They will get it right, if they keep at it.

So, take your time with them, and patiently keep teaching them how to do it right.

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