It’s inevitable. Someone will tell your grade-schooler that math is hard. He may hear it from older kids complaining on the school bus, a sibling struggling with homework, or even characters on television. Too often, this idea becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. But it doesn’t have to. There are lots of things parents can do to take the fear out of math by taking it out of the traditional classroom and making it fun.
Numbers are everywhere when you shop. Reading labels requires number recognition. Comparing prices introduces the concepts of greater than and less than. Throw in addition by asking your grade-schooler how much buying two items would cost or practice rounding by taking prices to the nearest dollar. Demonstrating these practical applications with simple, real life examples demystifies the concepts and makes them easy for kids to understand.
Let them pay
Grade school kids love to shoulder the adult responsibility of paying at the cash register. When it’s feasible, let them. Money handling is a valuable life skill that involves a whole bunch of math skills. Adding, subtracting, skip counting and even fractions come into play when you count out money and double check that you received the right change.
Many board games involve counting, even if it’s just dealing out cards before the game starts or moving tokens around the board. Kids’ versions of monopoly like Monopoly Cars are great because they incorporate money handling too.
Card games often involve patterns. Winning at Uno requires quick, strategic thinking about patterns. You also have to add up your cards at the end to determine your score.
Keeping score at any game familiarizes your grade-schooler with numbers. While waiting for the school bus in the mornings, we draw a bull’s eye in the stones of our driveway, assign each circle points and then bounce, roll or kick a playground ball towards the target. It’s addition, skip counting and a great way to burn off a little early morning energy.
Cook with them
Baking a cake is lots of fun — and lots of math. Whether you’re working from a boxed mix or putting it together from scratch, you have to measure out ingredients. It’s a perfect opportunity to familiarize your child with fractions because it’s easy to demonstrate how four scoops from the ½ teaspoon equal two scoops from the teaspoon. Baking is math with a bonus: dessert!
Let them play online
When you’re busy with other things, there are lots of great games your kids can play online to hone their math skills. Johnnie’s Math Page is highly recommended by my children’s teachers. The educational games at PBS Kids are favorites as well.
Make math enjoyable by taking it out of the classroom and into everyday life. You’ll strengthen your grade-schooler’s math skills, build their confidence and have fun too!