Reading and Mathing with your kids

Educated parents that we are, we start reading to our kids from when they were infants. (Know moms who start reading to the baby in the womb?) We’ve been told that children who read early and read well usually grow up in homes that read. So, we do a great job reading to them.

Are you doing as great a job mathing with them? It’s not different from reading. Remember how you’d read street signs, cereal boxes, leave short notes in their lunch packs – anything that’s readable, you’ll make it part of their everyday? Mathing with your kids is no different. In fact, it’s quicker and easier.

For parents who are new to this idea, I like to start them with the concept of the math minute.

The Math Minute

What does the math minute suggest?

  1. Brevity. Just one-minute interjections in your busy day.
  2. Anyplace, anytime, any reason. It’s just one minute, so it doesn’t need scheduling.
  3. Quick mental math questions. No brain-teasers or brain-stressing problem solving here. Just quick mental math questions. That means no paper or pencil . In my house it would take 5 minutes just to find the paper and pencil.
  4. No new concept. Math minutes are not for teaching new topics. They are for enforcing math skills that a child is already introduced to.

Here’s the most important part about mathing with your kids. Let the child initiate it. We are not interested in learning anything that we don’t have a need to know. But when we need the information, have you noticed we are a lot more motivated? Take advantage of that when you math with your kids.

For example, driving to the ski slopes this morning, my 9 year old daughter asked me how long the trip would take. Let them math it out:

  • Kayla, the GPS says 41 minutes. So what time will we get there?”
  • If you guys don’t scream so much at the back, and I concentrate better, I might be able to shave off 3 minutes. Will we get there before your cousins?
  • We left 15 minutes before your cousins but their house is closer. Do you think we’ll get there first?” (prompts her to think what other information she needs to solve this problem).

Later, at the slopes, my 6th grader son remarked that the snowtubing ticket wasn’t cheap ($22). So I answered,

  • My goal is to snow tube enough times to make it work out to $2 or less per ride. Do you think I can do it?” (After he figured out that’s 11 rides down, he said it sounded doable).

Ordered a pizza lately? That’s a great opportunity for mathing with your kids.

  • Sweetie, would you rather have one eight of the pizza or one sixth? Why?
  • I’ll cut it in quarters first. Then I’ll cut split each quarter into two. WIll I have enough for everyone, you think?”
  • That reminds me, your birthday party, let’s say each of your guest has 2 slices, how many pizzas should I order for your party, sweetheart?”

Just as for reading, when you choose books around their interest, when you math with them, take advantage of their questions and interests. When a child gets into the habit of verbalizing, visualizing and thinking about math on his feet, it will develop his number sense and smooths the ride through middle and high school math.

About Roger

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!