We all know that very familiar adage, practice makes perfect—or as my third-grade teacher liked to say, practice makes permanent. It’s an all-too-familiar phrase that perfectly sums up the idea that the more you work on something, the better you get at it over time. Ask any expert, no matter what their particular field of expertise, and they will tell you the exact same thing. They got to where they are today by making their field of expertise a daily discipline and working on it every single day.
How do we transfer this philosophy of daily discipline to education and, more specifically, to math? The first step is to make math part of the daily conversation. Sure, drilling your child with regular assignments and quizzes at home could work, but we’ve all seen children hit the wall of math fatigue. We want them to engage with math without being overwhelmed by it.
Here are three easy ways you can introduce math into your everyday routine during home and distance learning in fun ways that your child will enjoy and understand.
Look for Patterns
A simple and fun way to work around math fatigue is to teach your child to look for patterns and recognize mathematics in the world around them. Show them how to notice their environment by asking them to look around the house and find as many objects shaped like rectangles, octagons, or rhombuses as they can. You could let them use the camera on your smart phone and turn it into a fun photo scavenger hunt. When they come back, ask them why they think those objects are shaped that way. What do you notice about the shapes? How are they similar or different? You can talk about this while walking the dog, on a social distance nature walk, or even on a car ride.
Find Math Lessons in Everyday Activities
Turn everyday moments into chances to teach math. Talk about fractions when you serve dinner. Next time you have pizza ask your kids how many slices everyone can have if there are 16 slices and 4 people in the house. You can even turn making dinner into a fun chance to teach fractions by using measuring cups and following recipes. They’ll get to help you out, do something they enjoy, and learn the importance of using the correct fractional amount. Remember to push your child’s thinking by using the specific meal as a concrete example, but then asking them to extend it into a representational (drawing) and abstract (symbolic math) model to connect all three parts of the CRA approach.
Make Playtime Educational, Too
Yes, even fun family activities can be great opportunities to teach math. For example, next time you take your child out mini-golfing you can point out the angles and degrees needed to bank the ball off the wall and into the cup. Maybe even challenge them to take harder shots as a chance to put these skills to the test.
There are lots of everyday moments like this that can be great opportunities to challenge your child and strengthen their math skills in the process. And even if they don’t ask, you’ll be providing answers to the dreaded question, “Why do I have to learn math? I’ll never need to use it!” Are there any other everyday math moments you can think of? Let us know.
For more ways to give your child practice with math skills at home, check out some of our lesson plans, like Fluency Builders and Show What You Know. Both of these activities challenge and quiz children on their math knowledge with fun games and quizzes they can do on their own time. You can also read about our other math-related programs at STEMscopes.com/math.