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Ideas for making math more fun

FRIDAY, APRIL 03, 2015 10:01 AM

Any parent or instructor knows that teaching math to children is a tough job. Not only can the new concepts be difficult to teach, but after beginning to learn those hard concepts, it doesn't take long before students begin to ask, "When will I ever use this again?" That's why it's especially important for parents and teachers of younger children to keep math fun, exciting and achievable. One of the Common Core State Standards math objectives is to ensure children have a fluent understanding that builds upon itself, rather than a set of memorized equations that don't appear to be connected through different grade levels. Parents can help achieve that goal by keeping children in a mathematical frame of mind at home. That said, here are a few practical ideas for making math more engaging for younger children:

Relate it to the real world
That question of whether children will ever use the math they're learning again can be answered easily: They will. But parents can also prove that by relating math to the real world in fun and interesting ways. Younger children can help you measure ingredients while you're cooking dinner. Or, instead of answering a question like "How long until we get to Grandma's house?," you can turn it into a math problem. Say, "We'll be there at 3 p.m. Since it's 2:40 right now, how many minutes do we have left in the car?" Older children can help you determine your savings when there are sales at the store or figure out driving equations on road trips (like, "If we're driving at 60 miles per hour and we have 180 miles left, how long will it take us to get there?").

Play games
There are tons of computer-based math games that can turn solving problems into taking part in a variety of fun scenarios. Or, get the whole family involved by playing math-related board games, such as Monopoly. You can even hold a competition using flash cards or other speedy math problems, and turn it into a family game show.

Keep kids encouraged
Discouragement is the No. 1 way to make children (and adults!) dislike an activity or task they're expected to do. Not only should you give children encouragement and praise when they accomplish something, but you may also want to play to their strengths. If you have a son who likes sports, use the players' statistics to teach math in a fun way. Or, if you have a daughter who plays an instrument, relate math to the time signature or the overall rhythm of each song.