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7 Ways your child can learn math from the World Cup

You and your student may already be enjoying this beloved sporting event together, so why not apply some mathematical exercises as well? They are easy and simple to incorporate. Here are seven suggestions:

tfather and son watching soccer on tv

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t The 2014 World Cup is an exciting sporting event that occurs just once every four years. While its athletic distinction is well deserved and well known, its many mathematical applications are perhaps less immediate to the general populace. Whether your student is beginning kindergarten or high school this fall, the World Cup is a prime opportunity to preview or reinforce math skills that are imperative for her academic success. Here are seven ways the World Cup can teach your student math this summer (but hurry, the tournament ends on Sunday, July 13).


t If your student is in preschool or the early elementary grades (such as kindergarten and first), exercise his or her emerging math literacy by counting the number of players on the field. How many men are on each team? How many men are there in total? Such questions connect the process of addition to an authentic scenario.


t The 2014 World Cup likewise lends itself to an engaging exploration of subtraction. Encourage your young student to stretch his or her developing skill set by posing and solving real-life word problems. If two of Brazil’s players leave the field for water, how many remain? How many fewer goals than Costa Rica does Italy have?


t Children in the middle elementary grades (second and third) may enjoy comparing whole numbers that appear within the context of a match or matches. How many more goals, in all of its games, has Brazil scored than the U.S.? How many fewer veteran players does England have than Spain? Inequalities abound in this soccer tournament.


t Challenge your upper elementary-age student (fourth and fifth grade) with problems that involve division. If the German team must travel 5,857 miles to the 2014 World Cup, about how many hours will its flight be (if the plane’s average speed is 600 miles per hour)? Synthesizing information is a key component of many math standards.

tkid doing math

Photo credit: Blend Images KidStock/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images


t Estimating a solution is an excellent task to practice with your growing student. How many victories are necessary to win the competition (or, in other words, how many successful matches in how many rounds)? How many total players are present (how many men per team on how many squads)? Multiplication is a powerful tool to apply here.


t Middle and high school students who enjoy soccer can apply probability principles to the games they watch. How likely is a specific Mexican player to score, given his average number of attempts per match? What is the probability that the referee will extend the game? In certain cases, the 2014 World Cup may serve as an introduction to advanced math subjects.


t Statistics is equally as applicable as the six math topics above. What do statistics suggest about the performance of the World Cup’s goaltenders thus far? Are Argentina’s top forwards scoring above or below their statistical averages?

tAs this article suggests, the sport of soccer is rich with opportunities to strengthen multiple core math competencies, for students of any age.

t For more tips and strategies to help your student succeed in school, visit

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