Math the Common Sense Way

Math teaching in this country has become atrocious. Somehow a culture of thinking math problems come in clean, neat, drill and kill form is mastery. Math comes to us in real life in words, and images. It is messy. Creative and critical thinking skills that come in simulations and games teach children how to solve real world problems. In most cases, no one right answer exists. Instead, an array of answers exist each with positive and negative aspects. Depending on the needs of the time determines which answer could solve the problem.

Best Practices

Because of the number of students, over emphasis of multiple choice testing, numerous laws, and time constraints math is not best taught in schools. The living proof is go to any college class and when a teacher presents a real world problem like how to take one size larger paper and calculate how to third it, watch students squirm or go silent. These students passed all the state tests given; certified that they have the skills to do such a problem in their head, and it is rare to find someone who can. Adults shiver in fear when they have to take math classes at the college level for the most part. Occasionally, a student has number sense of application, but a short conversation will show the student had an adult in their life who developed their math sense or an unusual teacher who bucked the system and taught math at the application level in compelling ways. These students are never afraid of a complex problem because they know it is solvable.

The Problem

Until school systems stop blaming students for failing math scores, and the culture stops seeing math as an impossible subject to learn this travesty will continue. Math and science are creating most of the new jobs. Other countries are willing to teach math in a way that develops application level skills. What can a parent do to make their child have great number sense?

Cooking

Cooking together is a fabulous way for children to learn application level math and science. Cooking is chemistry. Mixing of ingredients shows the changes in substances in states of matter. Recipes have proportions and proportional reasoning. According to math research place value, number sense and proportional reasoning are foundational thinking skills necessary for application level math. Talking to your child about each ingredient, what happens when it mixes together, and interpreting a recipe lets a child develop real math abilities. Do not be afraid to experiment to see how changing proportions or ingredients change results. Eating a cookie as the finished product has much more impact than any multiple choice item on any test.

Building

Remodeling your home? Let your child help. Simple items such as measuring the floor and laying down tiles then explained to children lays the foundation for geometric and algebraic skills. Even if, you personally are not doing the work, most contractors are more than happy to explain how they build or remodel. The language they use is practical math language. No remodeling? A parent can buy kits of woodworking, foam, or painting a picture, etc. All of those use math in practical ways. Then when children become exposed to standard forms of math in testing formats they will have a schema that new knowledge can attach.

Repair Work

Maintaining material items in a residence is a constant and often takes creative skills to fix. Include your children in the discussion of how to fix and use some of their ideas. Keep broken toys or items and let children see if they can make something useful or creative with it. Of course, garage sales and flea markets are plentiful and items can be bought cheaply.

Internet

Simulations of real life problems and events which are full of math let children experience a high level of critical thinking skills in a fun way. Simulation games show outcomes. A child playing a simulation over and over again sees the result of each decision without a red pen or the thought of failure stopping them from discovering the differing results. If one has any doubt about this type of teaching, knowing this is the number one skill engineers develop to do their jobs. Engineers apply mathematics at high levels since it is a tool used for their creations or the solving of complex problems. Better yet, an adult playing the game along with the child, and having conversations about the math is the best teaching of all.

A parent being aware of how important they are to the teaching of math is the best solution to solving our nation’s math deficit. A parent can become confident knowing how easy it can be. While planning your ordinary life activities, plan a few application math sessions and watch your child blossom.

Information courtesy of Mary Page, a retired District Elementary Math Specialist for GCCISD, Baytown, Texas who also was an elementary math facilitator for 8 years teaching at risk students at Ashbel Smith Elementary with a 90% poverty rate successfully.

Noelle Eberts has a passion for connecting children to the possibilities that math can unlock. She writes independently for www.mathnook.com and is a great resource for all kinds of kid’s math games. Noelle is a part-time math tutor and a full-time Mom!

School Being Restored But Kids Still Learning

Salary Career and House Cards in LifeIt was a sad day when I learned that a water pipe had burst sending thousands of gallons of water through my two younger children’s school, leaving the old building of the school in shambles. The library was full of wet books, the office and the cafeteria where a few places in the school I had heard were full of water and showing signs of damage from the water pipe bursting. I literally cried. Yes, I am an emotional lady these days, but this is a school I went to as a child, the old part of my children’s building is the same place I went for first grade up through third grade. This is a great school, with amazing teachers and students!

Due to the school having to be restored, the kids have been out of school, a whole week of school is being missed due to the restoration and water damage. This made me sad too, for multiple reasons; the fact that so many students will be without education that week and my work schedule/routine will be in a funk while I have my two sons full time, minus a couple mornings when they go with their Dad.

Boys in Front of Plane

I am not the type of parent who is like “school is out, what the heck will we do”, I just realize how important it is to keep my kids moving forward in learning at all times. I am also aware that my boys are not the type to want to sit down and “play school”, so that is when my creative mind had it’s wheels in motion. The game of Life and even Monopoly is a family favorite and it uses math skills as well as counting skills. Both boys can use their piece or car to count how many spots they move on the board. My six year old enjoys being the banker in both Life and Monopoly, so he practices his math skills while enjoying a family board game day.

The boys enjoy books, so we practiced reading some of the easier level books I own, having story time and board game time seems like good ole family fun but the tricky part is that my boys were actually practicing their school skills to ensure when they go back to school next week that they did not lose all that their teachers work so hard to teach them!

What tricky ways do you teach your kids at home through play time?

Scholastic Printables Worksheets

I am a big fan of keeping the learning going during off school time, meaning Summer vacation and school vacations my kids are learning in a fun way.  Scholastic Printables really helps encourage parents to have a resource of learning sheets for kids to use both during school year and during off school time.

Whether you are looking for third grade math worksheets or other age groups from Pre-K to 8th grade you will find printables that offer various options to encourage your child’s brain to keep working. Taking the extra time to assist your child to excel in school at home will pay off in the long run. Whether you do something as small as reading daily to them or these printable worksheets, you will see how happy your child is once they start succeeding in school with the help from their loving parents!

The Math Mage for iPad

For those with iPads I know that you are usually on the look out for interesting or fun apps for the kids as well as yourself. Today I am sharing an app called The Math Mage which allows kids to challenge their parents in the area of math. Now, I have a daughter who excels in school but this year she is being provided with math problems closer to her skill level which means this year she is being challenged. An app to challenge my kids minds more but in a fun way is certainly something I would try out!

Math is sometimes a tricky subject for both kids and parents, with The Math Mage you are able to interact with your kids and challenge each other to see who is better at math. This is fun, educational and interactive for family time.

Purchase this app on iTunes for $1.99, this app is rated 9+.

Math Easy HD iPad App – Free Promo Code

As a mother who enjoys working with her children to teach them skills they not only need for life but for school as well I am excited to offer all you iPad owners out there a cool app called Math Easy HD. Many people will agree that math is used in all areas of life, it is one of those skills you really should learn, lucky me my children are all really good in the area of numbers but this app will help you all work moving forward and maybe even help your children find a love for math!

Math Easy HDGET IT FREE WITH THIS CODE: 9L4XRYAH63A4

If you are looking for an entertaining, fun way to teach your children math, then this is the app for you! 10 steps learning game helps with math skills and the app is currently rated 4+ on iTunes.

Features:

  • Personal profile with customizable pictures
  • Friendly, optimized for children interface
  • 10 engaging puzzles based on math
  • Automatic bookmark function
  • And more …

So head on over and check it out, if you download this app for free using promo code 9L4XRYAH63A4 I would love to hear back from you. Please leave comments below so I can hear what you all have to say about this iPad app, Math Easy HD.

Awww .. some day I will have an iPad and test this app out too!

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