Mathematics is one of the worst enemies of students. Very few students enjoy the subject. For others mathematics is nothing more than a bunch of formulae, equations, steps and solutions. Among the different sections in mathematics like algebra, trigonometry etc calculus scares kids the most.
Dealing with integrals, limits, infinite series and derivatives this branch of mathematics is generally taught at college level. But nowadays it is included in high school curriculum. Well, children at this age often find difficulty in handling algebra and trigonometry. The addition of calculus could be overburdening the students.
How can you help your child handle the subject easily and effectively? Though calculus brings with it a new level of difficulty, this branch of mathematics has its roots well grounded in other branches like algebra, geometry and trigonometry. Understanding these three branches properly can help your child excel in calculus.
Once you are sure that your child has developed a good base in algebra, geometry and trigonometry start off by introducing the concept of limits. ‘Limits’ is the first step to learning calculus. Calculus, studies change. It helps in the identification of the effect on a system when a particular component or part of the system changes. ‘Limits’ helps understand what happens to a function when a quantity approaches a certain value. The simplest way to start teaching this concept is by determining the slope of a tangent line.
Introduce derivatives next. Derivatives measure the instantaneous change. It expresses how one quantity changes with respect to changes in some other quantity. This process of finding derivatives is called differentiation. You can explain this with the help of the tangent by expressing the slope of the tangent line as the derivative of a function.
Once the concept of derivatives and differentiation is made clear to your child, move on to cover infinite series. This will help your child in getting the foundation for understanding the concept of integration. Integrals are a means of calculating infinite sums.
Studying integration would now be more confusing than difficult. Integration is the inverse process of differentiation. When differentiation understands the change in a function when a small change happens in a variable on which the function is dependent, integration attempts to identify the sum of all these changes. Integration was rightly called ‘anti-differentiation’.
These steps might make it look simple but with the vast collection of formulae, calculus reveals itself as a confusing and very difficult branch of mathematics. Students often exhibit a tendency to by heart formulae without understanding their real meanings. Well, this might help kids with excellent memory to get through during examinations. But a large majority of students struggle to get decent scores in calculus.
Teachers and parents need to spend more time in explaining the concepts and the basics to the students. Also the other branches of mathematics should be made clear. For example, students who do not understand the basics of equations, is surely not going to understand the process of differentiation or integration.
In short, you can help your kid defeat calculus by making sure that he or she has a strong base on algebra, geometry and trigonometry and also by encouraging them to understand the concept behind the process of differentiation, integration and limits rather than by hearting formulae for the sake of getting through the examinations.