There’s an all-too-common misconception that some people are born with a head for numbers and others aren’t. But it’s not true. For most children, being good at math takes practice and confidence. Here are 10 easy, pressure-free ways to help your child practice sixth grade math skills in everyday life.

  1. Savvy shopper

    When you see an item on sale, ask your child to figure out what it will cost after the discount. Pose reverse questions, too. For those $50 jeans your child wants, how much would they need to be discounted for the total price to drop to $25?

  2. Travel time

    When you’re going somewhere, ask your child how long it will take to get there if it’s 15 miles away and you’re driving at 60 miles an hour.

  3. Penny for your pancake thoughts?

    Ask your child to figure out the ratio of flour to milk in your favorite pancake recipe. Then ask him to double (or halve) the recipe.

  4. Rothko ratios

    Is your child the artsy type? Talk to him about how ratios are important in art. Can he draw two pictures that are in a scale of 3 to 1? There’s a ratio! Two parts red paint to three parts blue paint: another ratio.

  5. A better buy

    Demonstrate using math to problem-solve in everyday life. Let’s say you’re grocery shopping and there are two brands of macaroni and cheese on sale. One brand is normally $1.99 and is 30 percent off. The other brand is normally $2.99 and is 20 percent off. Ask your child to figure out which is the better buy.

  6. Going hot and cold

    Choose a city that experiences temperature extremes (maybe your hometown!), and look up the temperatures on the five coldest days and the 5 hottest days last year. Create a number line with your child and put those five temperatures on the line and compare them.

  7. Daily ruminations

    Celebrate math out loud for a day! Since much of an adult’s everyday life is filled with mental math, spend one day sharing these usually silent calculations with your child. You can start from the moment you get up and begin counting backward to figure out if your child is going to be ready for school on time; share the countdown with her. Ask your child to guess the number of miles you can eke out of your current tank before you have to buy more gas. All day long, share your mathematical thinking with your child and challenge her to participate in the math of your family life. Can she figure out how much you will spend on dinner? Or can she calculate the time it will take to get home if there’s traffic that reduces your speed by half?

  8. Cards and board games boost math!

    Play math-boosting games with your child, such as Set.

  9. Multiples for $100, Alex

    Play a round of this Jeopardy-style game with factors and multiples.

  10. Silly kitty

    Have your child check out this fun video about reasoning with rates.

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Updated: December 5, 2019