How to Encourage Math Development
Some children fear mathematics, but become less afraid when they see the application in their environment. Counting, sorting, and directional activities aid in the development of mathematics. Many of these activities can be done during your normal daily routine while shopping, cooking, traveling, and doing laundry. You may think of other activities as you begin to work with your child.
- Directional activities aid in developing spatial relationships. Ask your child to put his shoes under the bed, to draw a star above his name, to put the plate in the sink, etc.
- Point out the shapes of road signs and have your child tell you the shapes.
- While traveling, have your child count the number of churches, traffic lights, stop signs, etc. Make a game out of counting the number of cars in different colors. One child could count the white cards while another counts the blue cars to see which are more numerous.
- Let your child use road maps when traveling to plot the number of miles between points.
- Have your child count the number of people for dinner and set the table with the correct number of napkins, forks, glasses, etc.
- Have your child count the number of spoons in your house and then categorize by type (teaspoons, tablespoons, measuring spoons, serving spoons, etc.). Count the number of each type.
- Let your child arrange the spoons by size (largest to smallest) and by weight.
- Let your child help fold socks in the laundry. How many are matched sets? Sort the socks by color and count the number in each color.
- Play store with your child and let her be the storekeeper. Have a number of small items you can buy from her to give her practice in making change.
- There are many activities associated with grocery shopping and cooking to aid math skills:
- Have your child help plan a week’s worth of meals, estimate quantities of food needed and calculate costs.
- Supervise his/her cooking of some simple items to give him practice in measuring quantities.
- If you collect coupons, let your child help find the items on the coupons and calculate the savings.
- Have your child estimate the total cost of groceries by rounding each item off to either the nearest $ .10 or $1.00. Let her see how close her estimate is to the final amount.
- Have your child help in comparative shopping by figuring the unit price and compare accuracy to the unit price sticker. For example: Which is the better buy: a 16 oz. loaf of bread at $ .96 or a 25 oz. loaf of bread at $1.20?
- You can help your child understand fractions by dividing a candy bar or an apple into halves, thirds, fourths, or fifths. If you divide the candy bar into fifths and let your child take two pieces, then ask him how many fifths he has and how many are left.
- Flash cards can be bought or made to teach addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Also there are some hand-held electronic "toys" that teach mathematics skills that children enjoy.
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