Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Math Is Fun Too

Figures, Fractions, Signs and Symbols are part of the exciting world of mathematics. Some kids dislike math with a passion and this sometimes has to do with a simple fact – the way they have been taught. Maybe it was just one bad experience in elementary school but somehow it served to seal their fate and from then on math was just a bad word.

How about considering these methods as we introduce our kids to the world of mathematics:

  1. Be positive about math – Our kids like to imitate us; if we send a negative message to them about our own experiences they may simply accept it and believe their own experiences will be the same. So do not groan about how much you hated math in school and definitely do not make flippant comments like you were lucky you learned to count as that is all that you need in life.

  1. Treat math as exciting – Use bright objects to explain basic concepts of addition and subtraction. This is the nice thing about math. It opens you up to a world of opportunities. I used my floor tiles to explain the concept of area. Apples and other colorful fruits can be used to demonstrate addition and subtraction easily. Fractions are better understood when they can be visualized so use their regular picture puzzles to explain fractions – they are pieces of a whole so why not? The same thing applies to pieces of apples and oranges. Flash cards and games also spark interest – some teachers/parents swear by the math smart card games. Download some of the free math worksheets and resources online; some are very creative. I cannot emphasize this enough; the internet has a wealth of fun math resources. In fact I just noticed one by Waltzing Matilda that could be useful. For more ideas Click Here! .

  1. Treat math as part of playtime – This is an extension of number 2. This should alert you that you can take math outdoors. As you walk or bike outside you will notice the house numbers on both sides of the street. Use this as an opportunity to explain odd and even numbers. Encourage kids to count their toys – eg.cars, dolls, action figures, lego pieces. Purchase stimulating toys such as puzzles and spatial toys such as shapes and blocks to bring out that interest in geometry. This allows you to integrate math without appearing to be pressuring them to learn. This affords me the opportunity to publicize World Maths Day which takes place the first Wednesday in March. There students of all ages from all over the world go online (it’s free) to play mental math against each other. Last year 287,000 students from 98 countries participated to answer over 38 million questions. This year they hope to break 50 million questions.

  1. Treat math as part of their daily lives – Math has practical uses and kids must understand this early on. If they get an allowance they will need to count their money and if they spend any they’ll need to get the right change and understand how much is left over. They are growing and they will love this fact. Let them fill out their own height chart. When they are helping you in the kitchen, let them help you measure the flour to bake cookies. They can also figure out how many slices of pizza each person can get or how many batteries must be used out of the pack. to power their toys. These are just a few simple ideas.

  1. Combine math with reading – There are quite a few nice children’s books out there about math and who doesn’t like a deal. Imagine it’s a 2 for 1 deal you are getting, with the opportunity for your kid to enjoy reading and math at the same time. The Sir Cumference series comes to mind with its attractive illustrations and adventures. Less than Zero is another. It gives a good introduction to the concept of negative numbers. Also One Hundred Hungry Ants appeals to kids too. Well who doesn’t love bugs? Check out amazon or barnes and noble online. Read reviews and remember to ensure that the reading level is not more advanced that necessary to get the math concepts across or else that will just take the fun out of it and make your children frustrated.
We can help our kids to enjoy math by showing them that math can be fun too.

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