Have fun with numbers with these try-at-home math tips! Why? Because cultivating a positive attitude toward math really is half the battle when it comes to your child excelling in math class.
The probability is that some will want strawberry
Your child will be developing an understanding of sampling and probability. If you’re bringing cupcakes for a party, have your child survey half of the people invited to find out whether they would prefer chocolate or vanilla. Then have your child estimate how many of each flavor you’ll need so that everyone gets their favorite.
Getting positive about negatives
Quiz your child about scenarios in which a positive and a negative combine to equal zero. For example, I earned $10 and then I bought a $10 T-shirt. Yep, I’m left with zero. I poured myself eight ounces of water and then drank eight ounces. Zero again. I drove two miles to school and then drove two miles back. This one’s a trick! You didn’t drive zero miles, you drove four! See how many you can think of together.
In my estimation…
Get your child in the habit of estimating. Ask questions like, “What time will we arrive at school? How much will lunch cost? How many bottles of water should we buy for the soccer game?” Being able to make reasonable estimates is a skill that will serve your child in and out of math class.
Roll those dice
Break out the board games to improve your child’s math Spidey sense. When you’re playing, ask your child about probabilities.”What’s the probability of rolling a six on one die? What are the odds of getting double sixes?” Have your child explain his answers.
Let’s rearrange the furniture!
If you’re planning to rearrange the furniture in a room, ask your child to help with measurements and figure out how to make everything fit in different places. This will help your child learn to connect multiple math skills — including measurement, estimation, and calculating area — to their sense of design.
How ’bout those Mets?
Is your child a baseball (or other sport) fan? Spend a little time looking up the stats for your child’s favorite athlete and talk about how her hero’s numbers compare to other famous players’. Have a conversation about what’s remarkable about their favorite athlete in numerical terms. Do they have the highest batting average, for instance? Get your child to explain what each stat means.
Connecting math to value
Next time your child asks for something expensive, ask him to explain the value mathematically. Ask, for example, “Why not buy the less expensive option? Why not rent it?” Make alternative, cheaper suggestions and see if your child can develop an argument for buying the more expensive item using mathematical reasoning.
Piquing interest in earning interest
Turn your child’s allowance into a math lesson by having her analyze how she can make her money work for her by investing it wisely. Give her two different scenarios (one with compound interest, one with her earning regular amounts for extra chores) and ask her to use a graph to show you how much she would have after six months, one year, and two years. Then let her choose the most profitable option!
Public transit vs. the family car
Get your child to help you calculate different ways to save money on your family’s transportation costs. For example, compare driving a car (which costs $0.56 per mile plus a $4.00 toll) versus using public transportation. If you got a car with better gas mileage, how would that change the cost of your daily commute after a year? Ask your child to show which is a better approach by using a picture, a chart, or a graph.
The mystery of mobile plans
Does your child have (or want) a cell phone? Ask your child to research the different rate plans and figure out which plan is the best deal. Can your child find some serious cost savings for the whole family? Tell them you’ll split the savings with them!