Success in school starts and continues at home, but many parents feel inadequate when it comes to helping their children with math. While parents can usually find time to read a story to their children, thereby instilling a love for books, they are often at a loss as to how to instill a love and appreciation for mathematics. Like reading, mathematics is a subject that is indeed necessary for functioning adequately in society. Here are some tips to help you as you work with your child this school year.
Recognize that you make an important difference in your child’s education. Most children develop a sense of numbers way before the “regular” school years. If you have a young child, take advantage of those early years through activities at home that teach and at the same time are enjoyable. You might take your child on a counting walk in your neighborhood to count how many trees, shrubs, plants, houses, birds, dogs, etc. you see. Look for twigs or pine cones or leaves, etc. and have your child count as many as s/he can. Then lay them side by side to compare the length and ask your child, “Which is the longest, which is the shortest? Are there any that are the same length?”
Provide experiences at home that help your child be successful, and seek ways to let children, even very young children, know that they are needed and important. Cooking is a fun way to do this. Help your child follow the directions on a Kool Aid packet or frozen juice can to make refreshments for the family. Help your child cut a fruit or vegetable into halves, fourths, thirds, etc. Let them help prepare a meal while asking, “What do you do first? Second? Third?” or better yet, allow them to measure the ingredients for a recipe.
Children do not need a lot of motivation when it comes to recognizing and learning the value of coins. You know they are interested when they start bugging you for money. However, it is not sufficient for children to be able to just recognize coins, they must also know the value of these coins. The best way to accomplish this is to use real money. You might show your child two or more coins and have him/her tell you the total value of the coins. Or hold up a coin. After your child identifies it, discuss what the coin would buy at the store. When going to the grocery store, give your child his/her own money to buy something. Have them select an item that costs less than is site that has notes, examples and quizzes for your older children. The subject areas include Basic Math through Calculus. There are many on-line math dictionaries. My favorite is is a great resource for students struggling with a concept and needing an alternative way of seeing it.
Finally, talk about people who use math in their jobs, including builders, architects, engineers, computer professionals, and scientists. Point out that even if your child does not plan to pursue a career in which s/he will use math, learning it is still important because math teaches you how to solve problems and how to think logically. AND we use math everyday!
I graduated from college in the 1960’s; so, you know I have been teaching for a very long time, but I still love it! I have been blessed with many diverse teaching situations from teaching the visually impaired for three years to working with the hearing impaired. I have experience in every grade level either as peer coach, student teacher advisor, resource