Incorporating Math at Home

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By Allison Shride; Mathnasium- Parker
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Math is by far one of the most dreaded subjects in school, but there is no reason that it has to be. If you want your child to enjoy math and not be intimidated by it, one of the best things you can do as a parent is to find fun ways to incorporate math learning at home.

First and foremost, don't let yourself be daunted. Just because you don't remember algebra, doesn't mean that teaching math at home is a lost cause. The most important thing is that you remain cool, calm and collected. Your kids will pick up on your enthusiasm and not your dread.

Next, be involved. While it is natural to shy away from what we don't understand and don't enjoy, be involved with your child's math class and curriculum. Ask the teacher questions and get lesson plans, so you can know what your child is learning in class and try to incorporate it at home. Make sure you understand the math yourself before you try teaching it to your kid.

Teaching math at home should be fun and creative. Use the Internet by going online to find games and apps that you and your child can do together. Don't be afraid to think outside of the box when using everyday activities to incorporate math. For example, if you like to watch the TV show "Deal or No Deal," use it as a chance to teach your child about probabilities. Once you start looking around, you will find that opportunities to teach your child about math abound.

Here are a few of my favorite ways to introduce math into everyday situations at home:

  • Next time you are pouring your child a bowl of Cheerios, use it as a chance to teach them counting. Children love counting objects that they are familiar with, like cereal or funny-shaped pasta. Give them other real-life objects to count rather than the same old plastic teddy bears they have been counting all year in school.
  • Whenever you pay for an item and get change back, that is a perfect chance to teach your child about money as well as addition and subtraction. Use actual bills and coins whenever possible when teaching kids about money. For example, use real money when discussing the value of each coin instead of the cardboards cutouts that are normally used.
  • Watching sports, such as baseball, with your child is a prime opportunity to teach math statistics. You can use sports statistics to teach formulas and statistics. Have your kid use the sports page of the newspaper to calculate winning percentages and batting averages.
  • The way to teach math is always through a child's stomach. Kids love to eat snacks, so allow them to use edible items such as popcorn or M&Ms that they can enjoy at the end of the lesson. If your child isn't a big eater, find another real-life interest that you can use as both a teaching tool and a reward.
  • Personalize the lesson so that your child is a part of it. For example, create fun word problems for your kid to solve. Place the child's name in the word problem and use real-life experiences such as "Tyler had 3 drinks on the field trip and lost 2."
  • Put away the ruler once in a while. Instead of measuring everything in inches and centimeters, use some fun, edible manipulatives to measure items, such as marshmallows or licorice. Remember the principles of measurement remain the same no matter what you use as a yardstick.
  • If you have animals in the house, try to incorporate basic algebra/multiplication problems like: If we have 4 dogs how many legs do we have? How many tails? How many legs does our house have (animals and humans)? How many legs live outside? How many legs do we have if we have 4 dogs, 2 cats and 3 horses? You get the idea.

Now that you have a few ideas, start turning everyday occurrences into learning opportunities. Children are apt to learn math when they are having a good time participating in one of their favorite activities. In fact they won't even realize they are learning something until it's too late!

If you'd like more ideas, feel free to stop by or call us at Mathnasium in Parker. We love to talk about kids and math.