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Tips For Teaching Greater Than/Less Than To Kids

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In everyday life, mathematics is a crucial skill. Although it is undeniably one of the most despised courses to study, its significance in our lives cannot be ignored. It is typically seen as challenging because it calls for both verbal and nonverbal abilities. However, it considerably improves our ability to reason and analyse, which makes dealing with daily hassles easier. Therefore, adults and kids can live simply and stress-free if they have a solid understanding of fundamental mathematics!

However, mathematics can be challenging when dealing with young children because most of them either want to avoid it or are just afraid of it. Children’s foundational problem-solving abilities can be strengthened by teaching mathematics, particularly fundamental concepts like addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. The task is difficult, though. Maintaining children’s enthusiasm while preventing them from experiencing confusion and anxiety is exceedingly difficult for parents.

A crucial concept of mathematics is the greater than and less than concepts. Any two numbers can be compared using the greater than and less than symbols. Greater than and less than signs are used to indicate whether one number is greater than or less than another. These concepts are beneficial to help children solve basic mathematical problems such as addition and subtraction. In the Indian education system, these concepts are introduced to students from 3rd grade. As a result, children gain the ability to develop this skill once they reach the age of seven. Thus, parents can introduce these concepts at home to their children when they reach such age. However, most children are often confused regarding the symbols used and how to apply them to various problems. Therefore, parents need to possess specific methods to teach these concepts succinctly and lucidly, being able to clear any confusion that may arise amongst children. This article outlines a few effective techniques and tips to keep in mind while teaching greater-than and less-than concepts.

Importance Of Greater Than And Lesser Than Concepts  

Sometimes, children are not taught the greater than and less than concepts systematically; they are instructed only on the meaning of the symbols denoting these concepts without teaching them how to apply them to problem-solving practically. Teaching young children the meanings of “greater than,” “less than,” and “equal to” is an essential component of arithmetic instruction. These ideas are crucial for starting to comprehend addition and subtraction. 

Parents must understand that mathematics also has a specific language. This language consists of various representative symbols used for denoting certain mathematical expressions. Mathematical symbols take up less time and space when used. Through symbolism, it permits the communication of information between people. For instance, symbols like “+” represent addition, “=” represents equals to and so on. Children possessing a solid understanding of the content and use of this language can solve various types of mathematical expressions with ease. This language also includes the greater than and lesser than symbols- “>” and “<”. 

Furthermore, these concepts are significant in comprehending the relationship between two mathematical expressions or numbers.  For instance, the greater than symbol (>) is used when the first number exceeds the second number. The less than symbol (<) is used when the first number is less than the second number.

Symbols Used For Greater Than And Lesser Than 

The symbols greater than and less than signify a disparity between the two values. “>” and “are used to indicate greater than and less than, respectively.

Greater than symbol: The symbol used to represent greater than is “>”. In mathematics, the larger than sign is used between two numbers to indicate that the first number is greater than the second. For instance, 11 > 6, the use of the symbol between the two numbers means that 11 is greater in value than the number 6. 

It is important to note that the greater than symbol always points towards the greater value between the two numbers. Two strokes of the same length joined at an acute angle at the right form the character of greater than. 

Lesser than symbol: The symbol represents lesser than in “<”. In mathematics, the lesser than sign is used between two numbers to indicate that the first number is lesser in value than the second. For instance, 5 < 11, here, the use of the symbol between the two numbers indicates that 5 is lesser in value than the number 11. 

The less than symbol always points towards the lesser value between the two numbers. Two strokes of equal length joined at an acute angle at the left form the sign (<).

Equal to symbol: This is a symbol one must indeed have knowledge about. The symbol used for equals is “=”. When two numbers or values are equal, the “equal to” character is used to indicate that they are. This symbol runs counter to both the greater than and less than symbols. We employ the equal to symbol when composing equations.

For instance, If x = 10 and y = 10, then x = y.

Tips For Teaching Greater Than / Lesser Than To Kids 

Most children face confusion when presented with the concepts of greater than and lesser than. Such confusion is caused mainly due to the similarity in the symbols used. Moreover, they are unsure where to use which character in a particular mathematical expression. To eliminate such doubts, parents can adopt several practical tips and tricks in order to help children understand these concepts clearly. Before beginning to teach children these concepts, parents must first examine the content of their children’s syllabus and relate their content with the content of their syllabus. This shall give a double advantage to children, as by learning both at home and school, children can retain information efficiently. A few tips and tricks parents can adopt while teaching greater than or lesser than concepts to children are as follows.

  • Explain The Concept Before The Symbols: Firstly, children must be taught these symbols’ meaning and underlying concept. Before teaching what the symbols denote, parents must explain and show the idea behind these symbols. 

An easy activity that can be used for the same is as follows.

Parents can show children two plates of candy. One of the plates must have visibly more candies than the other plate. They shall then ask them to choose a plate of candy. Assuming children might prefer the plate with the greater amount of candy, parents can then introduce the concept of comparison of values. Children can be taught that they chose a plate of candy by comparing which plate has a greater amount of candy, and by doing so, they are using the concepts of greater than and lesser than. 

  • Introduce The Symbols: Learning to differentiate between the meaning and use of both symbols must be the next priority. This can be done using two tricks:
  • Alligator method: We are aware that an alligator (or crocodile) will always like to consume a significant quantity of fish. So, the alligator’s mouth typically opens in the direction of the greatest quantity. Imagine for a moment that the numbers on either side reflect the amount of fish.

For instance: 6 > 4. Here, the alligator’s mouth shall point towards 6. It indicates that 6 is greater than 4. Since the alligator’s mouth is facing away from 4, it indicates 4 is lesser than 6. 

  • L method: The less than the symbol “and the letter “L” share a similar appearance. The first letter of the word is more accessible to recall than the symbol.

This can be used to avoid confusion amongst children regarding the symbols. They can be taught that since the lesser than symbol “<” looks similar to “L”, which is the first letter of “Lesser than”, they can associate its use always with the lesser than denotation. 

  • Hands On Comparision: Start using the symbols on a writing pad. Give a set of numbers and ask children to identify which one amongst them is the greater and the lesser value. They can then be asked to represent them symbolically. Parents can also show children two sets of images using toys, chocolates, pens etc. and ask them to indicate which among them is greater or lesser. 
  • Use Posters: Posters are visual learning materials that act as ready reckoners for children. Posters showing the use of both symbols along with the different quantities of the same thing can help children learn these concepts quickly. 

These were some practical tips and tricks to assist children in learning the greater-than and lesser-than concepts of mathematics. Parents can use these techniques to help their kids build stronger mathematical foundations. Parents should always be understanding, kind, and supportive of their kids’ needs. Parents can better understand what methods to use to teach their children these concepts because each child has distinct demands by being receptive to their needs. Therefore, parents can successfully teach these concepts to youngsters by employing fundamental principles, beginning with simple facts and making learning enjoyable!