For some children (and parents), math is a nightmare. Whether it's fractions or logic problems, math can be frustrating and can drain a child's self-esteem. But parents know that strong math skills are important. We use math every day in both our professional and personal lives. Giving your child a solid start in math skills will help shape a strong future. You just may need to make it a bit more fun!
You would be surprised how many fun games there are that teach children math. Hopscotch, chess, dominoes, Yahtzee, Monopoly, and cribbage present great opportunities to build your child's skills. Any game that involves counting, addition, or subtraction provides a window for you to help your child learn and enjoy math.
Activity books are a great way to get your child excited about her ability to do count, recognize numbers, and practice all sorts of numeration and patterning skills. The books include a variety of games, including: dot-to-dots, color by number, size matching, and shape matching. Storybooks such as One Hundred Angry Ants or One Hungry Monster can also teach basic math skills to younger children.
Puzzles help children with a spatial reasoning, a skill that aids in the development of math and science abilities. A recent study by the University of Chicago found that children who play with puzzles between the ages of 2 and 4 exhibit stronger spatial skills. As reported by e! Science News,
"The ability to mentally transform shapes is an important predictor of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) course-taking, degrees and careers in older children. Activities such as early puzzle play may lay the groundwork for the development of this ability."
Parents often use television to entertain children for just a few minutes. Use that time wisely by skipping shows that don't teach anything. Put on a Leap Frog video or a Kid2020 DVD which feature fun songs and animation along with basic math lessons. Numerous studies have shown that music can help develop your child's math skills. In fact, Science Daily reports that "students in a music-based program scored significantly higher on math tests than their peers who received regular instruction."
5. Math Apps
Take advantage of technology by downloading a math app. Math Evolve features arcade-style games and flexible instruction. Others to check out include Number Rumble by Leap Frog, and Pop Math Lite, free on iTunes.
6. Tap Into Her Interests
Children learn best when they are interested in the subject matter, so turning their favorite stories or characters into an opportunity to develop math skills is a genius way to teach. Assistant professor of mathematical sciences at Ball State University, Cynthia Thomas, says Harry Potter is the perfect example. She believes the book series holds many prospects for getting children excited about math, from currency exchange to measuring, and ratio to logic. If you have a subject matter children are already excited about, it makes the learning that much more fun!
7. Real Life
Each day presents multiple chances to teach our children practical math skills, and to try to do away with the myth that we don't use it after we graduate. Math is everywhere: the grocery store, the mall, the arcade, and the doctor's office. It can be found in house numbers and patterns. Start helping your child realize that strong math skills can make a difference in her life by letting her help you while you shop or having her divide dinner up into even portions. The opportunities are endless — you just have to look.
No matter how frustrated your child gets from time to time, don't let her give up. If there are questions she has that you can't answer, it's your turn to do some research and try to teach yourself. As long as you display a positive, fun outlook and attitude, your child most likely will, too.