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Math - June 1999
As our children go about their daily lives exploring and discovering things around them, they are exposed to the world of mathematics. And since mathematics has become increasingly important in this technological age, it is even more important for our children to learn math at home, as well as in school.
This second edition of Helping Your Child Learn Math is for parents of children in kindergarten through fifth grade. It has been revised to include a variety of activities that will help children learn and apply mathematical concepts such as geometry, algebra, measurement, statistics, and probability in a useful and fun way. All of the activities in this article relate math to everyday life and complement many of the math lessons that children are learning in school. These fun activities use materials that are easy to find. They can be done in the home, at the grocery store, while traveling, or just for the fun of it.
How do you feel about math? Your feelings will have an impact on how your children think about math and themselves as mathematicians. Take a few minutes to answer these questions:
Do you think everyone can learn math?
If you answer "yes" to most of these questions, then you are probably encouraging your child to think mathematically. Positive attitudes about math are important for your child's success. This article will help reinforce these positive attitudes about math.
Mathematics as Problem Solving, Communication, and Reasoning
Helping your child learn to solve problems, to communicate mathematically, and to demonstrate reasoning abilities are fundamental to learning mathematics. These attributes will improve your child's understanding of and interest in math concepts and thinking. Before beginning the activities in this article, let's first look at what it means to:
Be a Problem Solver,
A problem solver is someone who questions, investigates, and explores solutions to problems; demonstrates the ability to stick with a problem to find a solution; understands that there may be different ways to arrive at an answer; considers many different answers to a problem; and applies math to everyday situations and uses it successfully. You can encourage your child to be a good problem solver by involving him or her in family decisionmaking using math.
To communicate mathematically means to use words, numbers, or mathematical symbols to explain situations; to talk about how you arrived at an answer; to listen to others' ways of thinking and perhaps alter their thinking; to use pictures to explain something; and to write about math, not just give an answer. You can help your child learn to communicate mathematically by asking your child to explain a math problem or answer. Ask your child to write about the process she or he used, or to draw a picture of how he or she arrived at an answer to a problem.
Reasoning ability means thinking logically, being able to see similarities and differences about things, making choices based on those differences, and thinking about relationships among things. You can encourage your child to explain his or her answers to easy math problems and to the more complicated ones. As you listen, you will hear your child sharing his or her reasoning.
Important Things To Know
1. Problems Can Be Solved in Different Ways
2. Wrong Answers Can Help!
4. It's Okay to Use a Calculator
How Do I Use This Article?
This article is divided into introductory material that explains the basic principles behind the current approaches to math, sections on activities you can do with your children, and lists of resources.
The activities are arranged by levels of difficulty. Look for the suggested grade levels on each page that indicates the level of difficulty. The activities you choose and the level of difficulty depend on your child's ability. If your child seems ready, you might want to skip the easier exercises and go straight to the more challenging ones. Each activity includes a tip box with a simple explanation of the mathematical concept behind the activity, so that when your child asks, "Why are we doing this?" you can explain.
Let's Go and Explore Math!
Mathematics is everywhere, and every day is filled with opportunities to help children experience it. So flip through the pages, find an activity, and get ready to help your child explore math and have fun at the same time.