2. Working with your child’s classroom teacher
In most cases, don’t try to push too far ahead of what your child’s teacher is doing in school. This will mean that your child will be bored in class and this will bring its own problems. It is much better to reinforce what has already been covered earlier in the year or to choose topics that are not likely to be covered in school at all, but which will encourage a love of mathematics for life. If you talk to your child about the topics they are covering at school, you may be able to extend that to outside the classroom.
Work with your children’s teachers, rather than against them. I was a teacher for over ten years and I can tell you there is nothing a teacher appreciates more than a supportive parent who can work with the teacher to help the child’s learning experience.
Read more about parent-teacher communication here.
3. Using practical examples
Practical examples are a great way of helping our children with mathematics, since virtually everything we see, do or touch has some mathematics involved. By exploring and explaining the relationship between mathematics and our surroundings, you can inspire and assist your child, not only to become more proficient, but to enjoy and understand the everyday relevance of mathematics. Some easy to explain, practical discussion topics include:
- SPORT – How does your favourite sport tally the score? What maths is presented on the tally? Are there other ways to record the score? How long do your favourite sport games go for in minutes and seconds? Are they divided into halves, quarters or something else? What are the shapes of different playing fields and courts? (Talk about edges and angles)
- NEWSPAPERS – On the front page, estimate the percentage of picture and text. Does this vary over the first four pages? Research the cost per word/line to put a classified advertisement in the newspaper. How much it would cost to put an advertisement in the classified section? In the weather section, what is the difference between the minimum and maximum temperature for each day? Try the number puzzles such as Sudoku, in the puzzle section of the newspaper or online.
- COOKING – Discuss the use of fractions, millilitres and grams. Let your child to make accurate measurements using measuring cups and spoons. How would you double a recipe? Encourage your child to record the new measurements. Make a list of the abbreviations used in recipes and then write them in full, for example, L for litre, mL for millilitre, tsp for teaspoon, tbs for tablespoon.
4. Talking to fellow parents
As I’m sure you’re aware, fellow parents can be a valuable source of information on all aspects of parenting. They too are doing the best they can to support their child’s learning. Ask other parents how they talk to their children about mathematical concepts, they may even be able to suggest local examples or activities that they use to facilitate their children’s mathematical learning.
Above all I want my children to love learning.