Someone once asked my daughter if she had used Math on the Level when she was younger. She said that it wasn’t called Math on the Level then because we hadn’t written it yet, but yes, that was how she had learned math. The lady then asked her if she had liked math. To my surprise, my daughter answered, “Actually, I thought I hated math.” But then she continued, “All my friends hated math, so I just assumed I did, too. I didn’t know I was doing math – I thought I was just having fun with my mom!”
Proverbs 17:22 says, A merry heart does good like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones. (NKJV)
When was the last time you heard, “Yay!!! It’s time for math!” ?
When was the last time YOU felt, “Yay!! It’s time for math!” ?
If you dread teaching math, if your kids are bored with pages of problems or hours of math fact drill, if your kids say, “When am I ever going to use this?”, then perhaps it’s time to take a new look at how you are approaching math. For a change, I’d like to suggest a few ways to tweak your math instruction so that math time becomes much more fun and meaningful.
“A consistent review of concepts learned is better than doing 30 or 40 problems at one sitting. Grinding through pages of math books may seem like the easiest way to teach, but it may not be the most effective way, especially if your kids are miserable.”
One way to create an environment where your children are enjoying math is to play games together. Family games are a wonderful way to teach logic, number sense, cause and effect, and even specific math skills. For example:
“Family games are a wonderful way to teach logic, number sense, cause and effect, and even specific math skills.”
Another delightful way to practice math is to cook together.
If your children are working on story problems, try recreating them - act them out. Give your children a visual, experiential picture of the situation, even if you have to get a little crazy. Have fun! And it’s okay to have multiple ages working together. When you act out a story problem, even if the pencil-paper math is too advanced for the younger ones, they may understand the concepts on a practical level. Let them be creative – and they may figure out answers in innovative ways.
Adding math activities to a textbook approach really doesn’t help much and may be overwhelming. Instead, do some substitution. The Math on the Level approach suggests that 2 or 3 days a week the math lesson involves using math in life, and only 2 or 3 days a week will be pencil-paper instruction. If you use a textbook, you don’t have to teach every page in the book. If your child already knows a concept, or if you can teach it using life activities, you may want to skip those pages. And a consistent review of concepts learned is better than doing 30 or 40 problems at one sitting.
Grinding through pages of math books may seem like the easiest way to teach, but it may not be the most effective way, especially if your kids are miserable. Wouldn’t you rather have them excited and curious about numbers? It’s so much easier for us to step out of the box in language arts or history than it is in math.
There are so many math concepts that are fun to teach and practice
So gather together for some family games or fall cooking, and enjoy your math lesson today!