Discuss Math Class at Home
Encourage your child to talk about the math concepts that she is learning at school. Don’t just ask, “How was math today?” Instead, ask her to tell you about something she learned in math class today.
Model Good Math Behavior
Speak positively about math and reward effort, rather than grades or ability. Think about how important reading is and how we are told to model this behavior for our children. We need to place math in the same category. Don’t discount the importance of math by saying, “I’m not a math person, I was never good at math.” Help your child read books that incorporate math, such as Millions of Cats, by Wanda Gag, or On Beyond a Million: An Amazing Math Journey, by David Schwartz.
Talk Through Math Problems
If your child is struggling with math problems, have her read each problem out loud slowly and carefully so she can hear the problem and think about what is being asked. This helps her break down the problem and come up with problem-solving strategies.
Highlight Real-Life Math Problems
Continue to find as many opportunities as possible to highlight math problems in real life. If you’re doubling a recipe and need to figure out measurements, enlist your 3rd grader’s help. Measuring cups provide an especially good opportunity for your child to familiarize herself with the concept of fractions that she is leaning about in school. If a recipe calls for a cup and a half of something, ask her how many 1⁄2 or 1⁄4 cups she would need until she had enough.
Highlight Real-Life Examples of Fractions
Encourage your child to spot real-life uses of fractions, such as menus that describe burgers as quarter pounders or sports games that are divided into halves. Have her practice fractions by drawing a shape, such as a circle or a square, and asking her to color in 1⁄2 or 3⁄4 of it.
Play Math Games
Time spent commuting or waiting in a car is a great opportunity to play math games with your child. Multiplication is one of the key math concepts she is working on in school and you can help her practice by asking her simple multiplication problems that relate to real life. Ask her to figure out the number of days until an event three weeks from today. Or have her calculate how many weeks she would have to save her allowance to buy a toy or game she wants.
Use Money to Practice Math
Make combinations of bills and coins using money from your wallet or your child’s piggy bank. Have her write the amount for different groupings, using a dollar sign and decimal point.
Explore Math with Sports
Sports provide a fun and engaging way of exploring a host of mathematical concepts, starting with basic addition. The halves of a soccer game or the quarters of a football game offer an illustration of how fractions work in the real world. If your child enjoys a sport, encourage her to explore it through math.
Practice Telling Time
Have your child practice her time-telling skills as often as possible. Ask her to check the clock when you want to know what time it is, and to compare the time on a face clock to see if it’s displaying the same time as a digital clock. If you have an appointment and need to leave by a certain time, have her help count down the minutes until then.