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How you can make math more appealing to your child
While some children have a natural affinity toward math, others insist they’re not good at it. They complain, “Why do we need to learn this? We’re never going to use it…” This is when you as the parent or guardian swoops in! Whether they know it or not, math has everyday practical applications. They will use it more often than they think. Remind them of this whenever you can, but make the whole experience so fun they don’t even realize they’re learning or calculating.
Whether your child likes or dislikes math, inject it into these everyday tasks to bond with your child and make math more appealing! As a bonus, these skills will prove very useful once they become independent adults.
Cooking and Baking
Cooking and baking with your child are great opportunities for utilizing math concepts like measurements, unit conversions, and ratios. Your child can help you whip up a meal by measuring the ingredients. If the recipe calls for one pound of ziti but the box of ziti says 16 ounces, your child can test their conversion skills to see if that’s enough pasta. As for ratios, look at the serving size! A recipe may make enough for four people, but you are hosting a party of twelve. You can ask your child to adjust the recipe so you make enough food for the party.
Not in the mood for cooking? Ordering in or eating out also offers many chances for your child to put their math skills to the test. Have them calculate the subtotal, and then the total bill with tax and tip. Is the family sharing an appetizer, like a plate of twelve mozzarella sticks? Ask your child to ration it out so everyone gets a fair share. They can also practice splitting the bill for every person or different groups of people in one party.
Whether your child is going to soccer practice or the family is on a cross-country road trip, traveling is another excellent way to fit in some math. Your toddler can count the number of red cars or the sides of a stop sign. Your child can compute the time it takes to travel at a certain speed to a place located a certain number of miles away. They can also calculate how many gallons of gas you get for $20, how far you can drive based on the gas left in the tank, and which routes or modes of transportation are the fastest.
Math is handy for managing time and schedules. This is great practice for young children learning how to read time. For example, you could tell them to set aside a quarter of an hour for a break after school, and they can mark that in a planner from 3:15 pm to 3:30 pm. You could also tell them that whatever you cook that day has to be in the oven for 90 minutes, which they will recognize as an hour and a half. Older children could use math to keep track of the time they spend on various tasks through spreadsheets and charts.
Managing money is another math-heavy task that your child should start learning at a young age. They can calculate to find the best savings. Buying 5 lollipops on sale for $4 might seem like a great deal until your child realizes that amounts to 80￠ per lollipop and another brand sells each for 75￠. They can also create a budgeting plan, figuring out how much they should set aside every week to reach a savings goal by a certain number of weeks. More advanced children can try to tackle problems involving interests, investments, and loans.
Even during your child’s leisure time, there are many fun ways math can be incorporated as an extra boost for the brain. There are puzzle games like sudoku and apps like 2048 that are popular for being both fun and challenging! These games test your child’s ability to think not in letters but in numbers while pushing the limits of their logic and problem-solving skills. They’re so engaging your child won’t even realize they’re working with numbers.
Learning isn’t sitting down, repeating exercises endlessly in a workbook. It’s becoming active and engaged, actually applying what is learned in everyday settings. This is possible with any subject, including math! Your child just needs guidance, and you can provide that by inserting math into these day-to-day tasks. You can make it as obvious or seamless as you want, depending on your child’s feelings on math.
If your child wants to have more fun with math, make sure you sign up for our newsletter! We send out math problems, on top of other activities like critical thinking brain teasers, for all of our students to enjoy outside of the JEI classroom. If your child needs help with math, we have a solution for that, too. Call us at (877) JEI-MATH to learn about our State Standard-aligned programs, JEI Math and JEI Problem-Solving Math!