- Play cards and board games with your child. Simple games such as Go Fish and Crazy 8’s are a great way for young children to learn the value of numbers. More advanced games such as cribbage and Monopoly are excellent mental math motivational tools.
- Count change with your child and have him or her use money in real-life situations. Use nickels and dimes to have children count by increments of 5 and 10. For older children, have them play “cashier” and count back change to you after you “purchase” an item.
- Play number guessing games. Here is an example: I am thinking of a number between 1 and 100. It is more than 50. It is an even number. It is the product of 8 times 9.
- Cook and read recipes with your child. Baking cookies is a fun way for children to practice their fractions by using measuring cups and spoons. For older kids, teach fraction equivalency, i.e., How many fourths does it take to make one-half?
- Take your child shopping and point out sales wherever percentages are used. Explain to older children how to calculate the price of something marked 50% or 10% off. This also provides an excellent opportunity to teach rounding.
- Use your newspaper to find graphs and statistics. Discuss how to read and interpret a graph, and point out the different kids: line graph, pie chart, bar chart, histogram, etc.
- Have your child assist you in crafts such as woodworking or sewing. Use various measuring tools to show your child how to properly measure an item to the nearest inch. Measurement is the mathematical area in which children tend to be least proficient on standardized tests. Have older children find the area and perimeter of an object.
- Fill a jar with jellybeans and have your child estimate how many there are. After their initial estimate, take out 10 and allow them to amend their guess. When you count the actual number, show your child how to count in increments of two.
- Pretend to shop using an advertisement. Given them 50 “pretend dollars” and have them pick out the things they want to buy and figure out how much money they would have left over. Hint: A toy ad is especially motivating for young children.
- Use dice to do mental addition and teach probability. Ask your child, “Am I more likely to roll a 7 or a 12?” For a challenge, use more than two dice. You can list all of the possible combinations on a piece of paper.
Ways to Help Your Child Improve His/Her Math Skills
As you try these activities with your child, remember to be positive, patient and encouraging. You want your child to understand that math is both fun and useful. This understanding will provide a firm foundation of mathematical confidence and proficiency.
- Jenny K. Nordman