Math can be a daunting subject, particularly when learning complicated concepts for the first time. Reinforcing math education at home is clearly important — whether your child is home-schooled, attends public or private school, goes to a charter school or does school online. Helping your child develop good habits — not to mention a good attitude — toward math early on is key to success. Here are five tips to help your first through fourth grader get off on the right foot mathematically.
1. Always consider the individual:
Everyone learns in different ways. Keep your specific child in mind when considering your approach and remember to tailor their supplemental learning.
Learning styles quizzes
If you need some help identifying the best ways to teach your child, you can take a “multiple intelligences” quiz online and answer the questions as if you were your child. The following quiz from Edutopia breaks down learning styles into percentages and offers specific information for each style: Multiple Intelligences Learning Styles Quiz
2. Use all available resources:
In general, kids ages six to nine learn best visually. There are so many different ways to make math appeal to your child. Technology is used in amazing ways in public schools, and you can take advantage of it too.
iPhone and iPad apps
Visual math 2 is a great option for first through third graders. It uses pictures, sounds and lots of fun bonus activities that will make math more like a game.
Websites and blogs
Try the website Math is FUN. There’s tons of information on different levels of math (i.e. geometry, algebra), as well as different everyday math concepts (i.e. numbers, money, measurements). Plus, there are puzzles, games, activities, and printable worksheets. Do a search on Google and Pinterest and tons of blogs and websites will flood your search engine.
There are tons of math workbooks or mind-teaser type books (like Math for All Seasons by Greg Tang) but there are also a ton of great picture books out there that can make math concepts easy to understand and much less frightening (like Spaghetti and Meatballs for All! by Marilyn Burns).
3. Make it an everyday thing:
Practice number operations with household objects
Find things that come in groups and talk about how they can be grouped in different ways — for instance, a dozen eggs can be grouped in fours, in threes or in two groups of six. Look for arrays (rows and columns) around the house, like floor tiles, a bookshelf with cubbies, or checkerboards. Have your child split them into smaller arrays — for instance a carton of eggs is an array of 2×6, but if you split it in half it’s two arrays of 2×3.
When you go to the store, have your child calculate how much you save by buying the cheaper of two brands of the same item. Have him or her total as many items as possible on the receipt. If your child likes sports, introduce them to statistics.
Find ways to collect, sort and organize information
Create a chart to track your child’s progress as they conquer math concepts. Have them sort change into separate funds — tell them to put equal amounts of money in each fund but use different coins.
4. Make it a family thing:
Everyone can get in on the action
Make up story problems together. Point out different opportunities to count, add, subtract or sort. Play games together, such as board games, computer games, and riddles. Get siblings in on the action!
Play lots of games
There are many different board games that use logic and strategic thinking: Monopoly, Chess, Checkers, and Clue are just a few examples. Games that use flat manipulatives help develop deep logic as well as spatial reasoning – Tangrams, Logix, Blockus, or Shapes Up are all good options.
There are also a wide selection of video games that teach math:
- For Nintendo DS: Junior Brain Trainer, Math Play, Challenge Me Math Workout, Brain Quest
- For Nintendo Wii: Reader Rabbit, Smartypants, Think Smart
- For a PC: Knowledge Adventure – Math Blaster
You can also find many free games online. Playing lots of games as a family not only makes math tons of fun, but learning together reinforces the importance of math and gives your child confidence.
Kimberly Mueller is the “me” over at bugaboo, mini, mr & me, a blog that highlights her creative endeavors. She especially likes to share kid crafts, sewing attempts, recipes, upcycled projects, photography and free printable gift tags/cards. When she’s not enjoying being married to her best friend, chasing after the natives (AKA her three kids) and attempting to keep the house in one piece, you can find her with a glue gun in one hand and spray paint in the other. Aside from DIY pursuits, she also enjoys writing, reading, music, singing (mostly in the shower) and the color yellow. Kimberly recently published a craft book entitled Modern Mod Podge. You can also find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Bloglovin’ and Instagram. Email her at: bugabooblog(at)yahoo.com