Do you dread hearing from your child, “I hate math!”? While math may seem boring or challenging to some children, research shows that despite what they may think, most students can succeed at high levels in math and enjoy it. Build a positive outlook and help your child do better in math by showing them that it can be interesting and fun.
1. Use measuring and fraction skills when you bake or cook along with your child. This is a great way to show your child the relevance of math in everyday life.
2. At the grocery store, have your child figure out how many pounds or kilograms of produce to get without going over a certain dollar amount. For example, say, “Please weigh and bring me three dollars’ worth of granny smith apples.”
3. Study and graph weather. Make bar graphs, circle graphs, or pictographs for sunny, rainy, cloudy, or snowy days. Find the mean, median, range, and mode for the high and low temperatures each month.
4. Research cool careers that use math. Some interesting ones include architect, astronaut, fashion designer, forensic analyst, and computer programmer.
5. Learn about the lives of famous mathematicians and what they accomplished; for example, Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, and John Nash (who is featured in the movie: A Beautiful Mind).
6. Let your child plan a special dinner. Then give them a budget and let them shop for the ingredients without going over budget.
7. Plan a trip together and calculate the kilometres you will travel at a designated speed. Determine how long it will take to get to your destination.
8. Give your child an allowance that they have to manage. Together, decide how much they will save, spend, and give away to charity, etc.
9. If your teen is employed, help them write a budget and open a savings account.
10. When shopping for a new toy, back pack, or school supply, look at sale flyers from several stores. Have your child find which store has the best bargain for the item they want.
11. Play ‘store’ with young children. Let them pick out toys and household items and put price tags on the items. Then give your kids money to practice counting out to you to pay for those items.
12. Read math picture books like The Greedy Triangle, The Grapes of Math, The Doorbell Rang, and The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
13. Have your tw/een pick out the make, model, and year of a car they would like to buy when they are, for example, 18. Look up the value of that car and figure out how much they will have to earn every week until they are 18 to buy the car.
14. Walk around your house and find examples of parallel and perpendicular lines in doorways, walls, furniture, etc.
15. Find various geometric shapes around your house and yard. Draw or take photographs and label the shapes and what they comprise (for example: the roof, mailbox, the deck railing), and make your own version of a book like Tana Hoban’s Shapes, Shapes, Shapes.
16. Have daily countdowns to special events or do a ___ shopping days until the children’s birthdays, etc.
17. Challenge both genders in math. Don’t promote gender stereotypes that suggest boys are better at math and girls are better at reading. Research shows that while girls do well in math in junior high and high school, women are underrepresented in post- graduate STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) jobs.
18. Play card games that involve math (for example, Uno and Crazy Eights).
19. Make up a word problem of the day every day and have your child solve it. Keep it fun and funny.
20. Cut food into fractional parts and talk about it. Use the food fractions to introduce equivalent fractions.
21. Take an online tour of your bank. Talk to your child about words like loan, interest, and principal, etc.
22. Celebrate Pi Day (Wednesday, March 14, 2018) and talk about what it means and why it is important. Make your child’s favorite pie.
23. Math tools like rulers, seamstress tapes, tangrams, pattern blocks, play money, fraction bars, counters, and geometric shapes are great for kids to make discoveries with while playing. Also, keep a good math dictionary on your bookshelf to help with terms you may have forgotten.
Janeen Lewis, M.Ed., is a freelance writer and teacher. As an elementary school teacher, she loves to see children get excited about learning math.
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