If you take a quick look around your home or out on the street, you will quickly come to realize that numbers are everywhere! From the numbers and minutes displayed on a clock to the sequences of numbers on the license plate, there are various opportunities for children to apply their mathematical skills in everyday situations, whatever their age.
Making real-life connections to numbers can help children with their counting, estimating, adding and subtracting skills. Many don’t even realize they’re using math as they count the number of seconds before they hunt for a friend in a game of hide and seek or play hopscotch on numbered squares in the school ground.
There are many opportunities to demonstrate to children how the need to use mathematical skills is all around us. In the supermarket, while cooking dinner, or on the walk to school all offer many chances to speak about math. And with a bit of nudging, it’s also a chance for children to show you what they already know and how they can work problems out by themselves. This can help build the child’s confidence based on what they’ve previously learned.
Taking your child to the supermarket can provide a wealth of opportunities to use their mathematical knowledge. Start by looking at price labels, special offers, and ask them to help calculate a discount on reduced items. Show them how to use multiplication to determine the best value when looking at multibuy offers. Involve younger children by using scales and weighing some of their favourite fruits or vegetables. Also, try to use cash to familiarize your child with handling money and calculating change at the checkout. This is a great way for children to start to understand money and budgets, and it can be fun for them to try estimating the value of the final shopping basket at the checkout.
Algebraic reasoning can also be practiced in the supermarket. Although it may seem like a foreign concept to many children, believe it or not, we do use it regularly. For example, you will need to use an algebraic equation to figure out how many hamburgers you would need for a party if you wanted two hamburgers for every adult, one hamburger for every child, and an extra three just in case.
Try cooking with your child at home using simple recipes that utilize several mathematical skills. Choose a recipe such as muffins that produces a larger amount than the number of people in your family. Have children rewrite the recipe by halving amounts or doubling them. Children can also learn to weigh out ingredients to the appropriate amounts and learn how to read varying increments on a weighing scale.
No matter if a child is going on a daily walk around the house or a long car journey, they can begin to understand the use of numbers in the world around them and start to develop mental dexterity. For example, ask them to keep count of silver cars and red cars simultaneously, or use a pedometer to record steps on their regular walk to school. Younger children could be asked such questions as “how many shoes are on the shoe rack?” This can help to encourage children to use unique and complex skills such as counting in twos.
While out on a walk, children can also be encouraged to find patterns in nature. Depending on their age, the more complicated the pattern they may be able to find. This can help them develop their skills in geometry.
To understand math deeply, the brain needs to form connections. So seeing it in real life can help children form these connections between abstract math concepts and real everyday life. When math becomes more relevant for students, they become more interested, engaged and willing to participate. By incorporating mathematics in everyday life, you could help to develop your child’s number sense.
The Ontario mathematics curriculum for grades 1 to 8 states that “In integrated learning, students are provided with opportunities to work towards meeting expectations from two or more subjects within a single unit, lesson or activity. By linking expectations from different subject areas, teachers can provide students with multiple opportunities to reinforce and demonstrate their knowledge and skills in a range of settings. Also, the mathematical process that focuses on connecting encourages students to make connections between mathematics and other subject areas.”
This helps explain why the curriculum focuses less on memorizing facts and equations and focuses more on critical thinking and problem solving about mathematical concepts. Parents can help extend this learning at home by making the connections between a child’s activities and the math concepts.
Some children are focused on the fact that their favourite career doesn’t have anything to do with math. Therefore, they are not motivated or engaged in learning mathematics. So, it is a great idea for these children to get them looking into the courses they will need to take to earn their degree/diploma in that field. Researching the career more to figure out what is actually required in that position often shows students how math can help them get into the career they choose. Once they see the math behind the career, they may be more motivated to excel to go into this profession in the future.
At Dropkick Math, we understand children need to encounter math in everyday life to help develop their fundamentals in the four pillars of math. Our programs focus on algebraic reasons, operational sense, number sense, and proportional reasoning. With a fun and engaging learning environment, your child can build on their math skills and gain the confidence they need to excel in mathematics. Learn more about our programs today!