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Mathematics Tips for Parents

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Success in school starts and continues at home, but many parents feel inadequate when it comes to helping their children with math. While parents can usually find time to read a story to their children, thereby instilling a love for books, they are often at a loss as to how to instill a love and appreciation for mathematics.  Like reading, mathematics is a subject that is indeed necessary for functioning adequately in society.  Here are some tips to help you as you work with your child this school year.

Recognize that you make an important difference in your child's education.   Most children develop a sense of numbers way before the "regular" school years.  If you have a young child, take advantage of those early years through activities at home that teach and at the same time are enjoyable.  You might take your child on a counting walk in your neighborhood to count how many trees, shrubs, plants, houses, birds, dogs, etc. you see.  Look for twigs or pine cones or leaves, etc. and have your child count as many as s/he can. Then lay them side by side to compare the length and ask your child, "Which is the longest, which is the shortest? Are there any that are the same length?"

Provide experiences at home that help your child be successful, and seek ways to let children, even very young children, know that they are needed and important.  Cooking is a fun way to do this. Help your child follow the directions on a Kool Aid packet or frozen juice can to make refreshments for the family.  Help your child cut a fruit or vegetable into halves, fourths, thirds, etc. Let them help prepare a meal while asking, "What do you do first? Second? Third?"  or better yet, allow them to measure the ingredients for a recipe.

Children do not need a lot of motivation when it comes to recognizing and learning the value of coins.  You know they are interested when they start bugging you for money.  However, it is not sufficient for children to be able to just recognize coins, they must also know the value of these coins.  The best way to accomplish this is to use real money.  You might show your child two or more coins and have him/her tell you the total value of the coins.  Or hold up a coin.  After your child identifies it, discuss what the coin would buy at the store.  When going to the grocery store, give your child his/her own money to buy something.  Have them select an item that costs less than the money you have given them.  You can also do a similar activity by asking them to determine what are the fewest number of coins it would take to pay for the item. Give your child a practical math experience by estimating how long it takes to prepare a meal from start to finish.

Parents' attitudes toward mathematics have an impact on children's attitudes; so, be patient with your child.  A wrong answer on a math test or a homework assignment is not a time for scolding.  It tells you to look further, to ask questions, and to find out what the wrong answer is saying about your child's understanding.  Ask your child to explain how they solved the problem.  Most importantly, relax!  Know that neither you nor the teacher needs to be perfect for your child to learn math.  Remember, one bad math assignment/test will not destroy your child's ability to learn math.

But what if you need some assistance?  Luckily, in today's world, we can find mathematical help at the click of a button.  Below are some great places to go and find outside help if your child is struggling or if you need more information for yourself.

Study Shack is a great place to find or make flashcards, play hangman, do matching activities or crosswords.  It has activities for grades 1-6 as well as addition, multiplication, algebra and geometry.  Cliff's Notes for Math is site that has notes, examples and quizzes for your older children.  The subject areas include Basic Math through Calculus.  There are many on-line math dictionaries.  My favorite is A Math Dictionary for Kids because it includes animation and interactive activities.  Even You Tube is a great resource for students struggling with a concept and needing an alternative way of seeing it. 

Finally, talk about people who use math in their jobs, including builders, architects, engineers, computer professionals, and scientists.  Point out that even if your child does not plan to pursue a career in which s/he will use math, learning it is still important because math teaches you how to solve problems and how to think logically.  AND we use math everyday!

My Cute Graphics offers FREE clip art and images for teachers, classroom projects, web pages, blogs, scrapbooking, print and more. Check out the website by clicking either under the boy sitting on the equal sign at the beginning of this article or on the purple letters in this paragraph.

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