For some kids, one of the toughest parts of the back-to-school season is getting back into the swing of math class. You can help ease the transition this fall and beyond by making math a wholly integrated part of the day.
Math plays a hidden role in so many aspects of daily life. By pointing out these connections in ways that are fun and engaging, you can help make math one of your child’s favorite subjects — or at least less feared.
• Bake your lesson plan: Learning fractions? Use pies and cookies to demonstrate the concept visually. It’s a tasty and fun way to learn how fractions and percentages work.
• Calculator fun: Get out the calculator and help children explore patterns. First- to third-graders can add or subtract the same number repeatedly. Children will observe patterns that emerge and get a better sense of arithmetic. Children can even make their own “pattern puzzles,” which are number sequences where some numbers are omitted. For example: 7,14, _, _, 35, _, 49. The activity can make addition and multiplication more comprehensible. Look for a model that will be useful for the next several years of math class, such as the fx-300ES from Casio, which offers 2-line display and 240 functions. Free educational resources and activities to try on the calculator can be found at CasioEducation.com.
• Money math: At home, use spare change to teach children simple addition and subtraction. Set a timer and see if they can make proper change in record time. Ask kids to solve increasingly difficult problems, and when they answer correctly, give them the change as a reward.
• Make it interdisciplinary: Leverage your children’s favorite school subjects and hobbies to pique their interest in math. If they love reading, help them select literature that celebrates math. If they find history fascinating, have them read about famous mathematicians and scientists who used math to make discoveries. For young athletes, there are always ways to turn that pick-up game in the park into a math lesson. Angles, distances, times and averages all figure into sports. Using these concepts in an applied way can make math more interesting.
Help kids get off to a great start this back-to-school season by making math fun and engaging.