Every parent wants their child to have an edge in school, and one of the ways is to teach them math skills outside of class. But the way that math is taught now is different than how you learned it at school. Plus, many parents have a bit of a math-phobia. We all know that our children need a certain level of math to get by in adult life, but if we teach them the way we learned it can get them in trouble because it’s not what the standardized tests want.
There’s nothing wrong with teaching them the old way because it works, but if they have to learn the new way then we need to make math more fun. Here are some ways to do that.
Point out where you use math
One of the best things you can do is to relate what they learn in school to something they’ll encounter in the real world. Common Core math is very abstract, which is great for later math but we don’t use ten frames and number lines when we’re calculating our grocery bill. You can use simple things like making change, cooking, or even your monthly finances to teach your kids how you, as their parents, use this “boring” stuff they’re learning in school every day. This not only makes math fun, but it makes it relevant to their lives and can make them feel more grown-up.
Play math games
Games and play are one of the primary ways kids learn new skills, and there are lots of ways to do it. Bingo is one option. Bingo teaches recognition of the numbers 1-75, but with a little tweaking, you can turn your bingo game into a full-fledged math bingo set. Instead of calling out numbers, the caller gives the players math problems. If they can solve it and they have the number, they mark it on the card. Cards are often simplified for these games. A simple 3×3 game can be good for single digit arithmetic.
There are other games also good for math like many card games, any game that involves points or counting dice pips, and counting games like Hi-O Cherry-O. There’s also a huge hobbyist game community that can help your child progress their math and strategy skills through lesser-known games.
Teach mental math
Most of us can do basic arithmetic in our heads. Teaching children how to do it early can help them develop “number sense.” This is learning how to work with numbers and their relationships intuitively. Many Common Core math techniques try to teach this to children, but you can help too. The ability to do math problems in your head makes math much easier and less like a boring list of operations. Just remember to tell them that, yes, they have to show their work when they’re in class!
As an adult, you know math is useful. You may not be solving quadratic equations anymore, but there are lots of things you use math for all the time. If you can communicate the value of math in a fun way, it won’t seem like a chore to your kids.