Make your Kid a Mathematics Champion

Have you ever noticed that your kids tend to forget about 2-3 months of mathematics during interim breaks?  They might read books, take exciting trips, build models, write stories, or visit museums. But they aren’t very likely to stretch their mathematical muscles. Daily life doesn’t require young children to count by twos or threes. It doesn’t present the average vacationer with opportunities to practice time tables or solve problems using long division. So kids don’t think about math and they forget what they’ve learned.
There are certain kinds of math skills that need to be practiced with pencil and paper. But if you think we can do a lot to integrate math facts and skills during interim breaks – sneaky things that make math practice fun and interesting. Here are some of our ideas.

1. Show kids how to use rhythm and music to memorize math facts.
Remember the cheer “Two, four, six, eight, who do we appreciate?” Chants, raps, and songs can help kids commit math facts to long-term memory, and they’re easily incorporated into long car trips or walks to the park.

2. Present kids with math problems – not procedural drills.
We’ve seen problem-solving defined as “what you do when you don’t know what to do.” If you know exactly what procedure to perform to get an answer, it’s not problem-solving. Examples? “How can you make 42 cents with 5 coins?” , “I’m thinking of two numbers. They add to 7. When I subtract one number from the other, I get 3. What are the numbers?”

3. Take time to find out if kids really understand mathematical concepts.
Perhaps the biggest reason why people flounder at math is that they’ve missed some fundamental concept along the way. At the very beginning, for instance, kids may fail to really appreciate “how much” a number represents. They lack an intuitive feeling that tells them 47 are much greater than 16.

4. Introduce freestyle mathematical play.
Invest in a good book of mathematical games and activities.

5. Use computer games wisely.
There are some excellent computer math games and software programs out there. Make them play it.
But keep in mind, kids will need your guidance to make sense of these games. And electronic games can have shortcomings. Some permit kids to progress through the game without any understanding of the concepts.