Growing up, I hated math. I wasn’t “good at it.” I suffered through high school math and in college, I took the bare minimum classes required. Then I became a teacher. Once I started teaching math, I figured out my problem. I had been taught how to solve the equations, but never how math related to everyday life. Even worse, I don’t remember ever being shown how math can be fun!
For those of you with children struggling in math or for those looking to supplement their curriculum at home, here are a few ideas:
- For young kids: To help with geometry concepts, send your child on a shape hunt around your house. Ask them about shapes at lunch. For example, point out that their sandwich is a square, but it can be cut in half to make either two rectangles or two triangles.
- For older kids: Tell your child that they have $10 to spend at the store. They must figure out what they want to buy, but first, they have to figure out if they have the right amount of money for it. Cash register and computers aside, they can estimate what they can afford and calculate whether they should get change back. For an older student, you could make this more challenging by having them add in sales tax. The activity can be in person or online. Or they can have a pretend shopping trip just as easily with ads from the Sunday paper.
- For all ages: Cooking is truly one of the easiest ways to make math fun. For a kindergartener, counting the eggs or ingredients is a good start. For an older child, talking about fractions is perfect. For example, how many 1⁄2 cups in a whole cup of milk? Is 1⁄2 a cup of oil more or less than a 1⁄4 cup?
Math at home doesn’t have to mean time set aside for studying or multiplication drills. Sure that’s necessary, but for many kids, it’s boring. By pointing out things in passing, you just might find something that sticks in your student’s head to help them along. Interactive multiplication games are one way to make math more exciting for kids.