Real-life integration of education cores, English language arts (ELA) and mathematics, develops concept connections through meaningful activities. It is often easier for parents to think of ways to bring reading and writing into their children’s everyday lives, as communication opportunities abound. However, it can be more complicated for parents to consider how they might offer opportunities for applied math skills.
The ultimate goal for math education is for students to understand the math concepts presented, find ways to apply them, and store the information for future use. Parents and teachers may think children have mastered skills because they have passed tests. However, performing the same skill for novel task completion is the actual test of mastery.
Math practice opportunities are all around us, as math is the language that connects the natural world to our minds and allows for creative exploration. Here are five ways your children can receive extra math practice to foster mastery through day-to-day activities:
1. Give children access to building materials to create projects.
For example, make a bird feeder, build a cardboard-box house, or find building kits at your local craft store. Use these activities to measure, talk about angles, make estimates, and problem solve.
2. Bring your child into the kitchen.
Cooking with your children is a fun way to spend family time and incorporate many math skills. Concepts of temperature, measurement, sequencing for directions, fractions, and time are all part of cooking. The best part is that cooking and baking are self-rewarding. Your children will feel proud of the end product.
3. Get your child to assist you at the grocery store.
Opportunities to use math are abundant at the grocery store. For example, children can estimate pounds of produce. They can use multiplication and addition to know how much multiples of the same item will cost. Children can also take on the task of determining the cost of a recipe. When you get home, even younger children can get basic math practice with skills such as categorizing and sorting.
4. Look to the sky and under your feet.
Our Earth and the space around it provide natural math lessons. There are many ways for your children to get fresh air while practicing math. Elementary-age students may enjoy measuring a plot in the yard for a flower or herb garden. Children can also draw and graph the number and types of trees in a local park. At night, get outside to look to the stars for patterns. Have your children use a star finder app to research star sizes and distances away from the Earth. For middle school students, NASA provides a free activity book full of math-based learning opportunities.
5. Help your child set up a budget.
Teaching children how to budget money is a simple way to incorporate fractions, decimals, percentages, and computations into daily life. When children have their eyes on must-have toys or places to go, help them research the cost and income earned through chores or allowances. Children can also set longer-term saving goals and make lists of financial priorities. They will enjoy using math to determine when they have achieved their goals.
Look around as you move through your days, and you are sure to find ample ways to connect math to your children’s everyday world. If your child could benefit from math enrichment to help bring concepts to life, contact us to learn more.