Math in the Home

With the holiday season in full swing, your child will be taking a vacation from school and spending more time at home. In addition to making lasting memories with family, you can also support learning in fun ways and he/she won’t even know it!

One math skill my students often struggled with was measurement. They had a tough time understanding the different units of measurement and the fractional parts of measures. The holidays are filled with cooking, which makes for perfect lessons in measurement. While you are baking cookies, let your child add the ingredients. Talk aloud the recipe to your child and explain the difference between a teaspoon and a tablespoon, as well as a half cup verses one whole cup. Ask your child which holds more, a tablespoon or a half cup? Have him/her decide if one teaspoon or one cup is the proper amount of sprinkles for the top of one cookie. Continue to involve your child in cooking with the goal of her/him being able to choose the correct measuring tool when you are reading a recipe.

Another math skill which poses difficulty for students is coin money. This makes sense in today’s society with the majority of monetary transactions taking place electronically via a debit/credit card or with a touch of your phone. Make a game out it by having your child go on a coin scavenger hunt around the house looking for coins in the couch cushions, the car, or any other place they hide. Once he/she has gathered the treasure begin by sorting the coins. Then, name the coin and value for the different piles as well as count the total amount for each type of coin. Determining the amount of a set of mixed coins is a harder skill, so start by only having two types of coins to add together. Continuing with the game concept, have your child get three different coins and give you three coins. The person with the highest amount of coins wins all six coins (like the card game “War”). At the end of your coin adventures, have your child (with help, if needed) count the total amount for all the coins collected. Then, using a store sales flyer find something to buy with the money you have, or introduce the concept of saving money for a goal.

Time is an additional math skill which can be supported at home. Start with an analog clock, discuss the meaning of the hands, and relate it to a digital clock. Show how the clock is divided into fractions to make half-hour and quarter-hour increments. Play elapsed time games by seeing how many jumping jacks she/he can do in one minute or five minutes. For younger ones, see if they can sit quietly as one minute ticks off the clock, then try for it five minutes. Discuss how it felt to your child, and if it was easy or hard to do. As you child completes simple tasks throughout the day, like picking up toys, eating lunch, or reading a book, time how long it takes and talk about the elapsed time. Then, when you are driving in the car or waiting on an event to happen, use the activity as a reference to help your child understand the duration of the wait.

By supporting these three simple math concepts at home, your child will have a better understanding when applying them at school. Most of all, enjoy the time spent over the holidays with your child because before you know it he/she will be an adult!

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