"When am I ever going to use this?" We've all said it. Make math come alive by showing your child that math is useful in everyday life. Practical examples can be both fun and -- don't tell them -- educational, too. Check out these six tips for making math more fun:
Play Monopoly and have your child be in charge of the bank. Math is required, but it can be exciting when the child is in charge of distributing money and selling fictional real estate.
A rousing game of gin rummy or 21 will teach a child to tally numbers. They'll be so intent on beating you that they won't even realize they are learning valuable math skills.
Bake cookies and double the recipe -- and ask your child to do the calculations for you. If your original recipe calls for 3/4 cup of flour, let them figure out how much you'll need for a double batch. Your child will be learning fractions as they figure it out -- and they'll get a sweet reward when the baking is done!
Pay in cash and ask your child how much change is due. Let them figure out how much the items you've selected total up to and determine if you have enough to cover the cost and receive change. Letting them handle the currency is exciting and teaches practical real-world math skills.
Use a clock to reinforce multiplication by five. Show them that when the big hand points to five, that's 25 minutes past the hour, which equals five times five. When the hand points to four, that's 20 minutes past the hour, which equals four times five. Little ones can learn easy multiplication and how to tell time! For older kids, analog clocks show angles, with a quarter past the hour forming 90 degrees and half past the hour showing 180 degrees. Sneak this discussion in while you're all having breakfast together!
Play "I Spy" and have some math fun! Note the hexagons and pentagons on their soccer ball. Play Chutes and Ladders, moving twice as many spaces as the dice show to illustrate doubling. Check out house numbers on your street with a younger child... if you're starting at number two, ask the child what's next. They'll expect number three, but it's on the other side of the street -- this teaches evens and odds! The child will begin to predict and learn to spot patterns while learning basic counting skills.
Rebecca Zook is a math tutor who says, "Math is a skill, not a talent. It's an ability that's developed over time, with practice." She sees math in everyday activities, even when making a sandwich. "When making a sandwich for a preschooler, ask them to help you cut it: in halves, in quarters, even in eighths. Or make a hopscotch grid. Preschoolers learn numbers as they hop through the squares. Even something simple: pick a number -- let's say five -- and ask your little one to bring you five toy cars, five blocks, or five of anything they can easily carry."
There are opportunities all around you to practice math skills with your kids. The trick is to make it easy and fun to learn by applying math to games, as well as to your daily activities.
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