Parents' attitudes toward mathematics have an impact on children's
attitudes. Children whose parents show an interest in and enthusiasm for mathematics
around the home will be more likely to develop that enthusiasm themselves.
Here's a game that is fun and can be regularly played. Write a number over each letter
of the alphabet. Let your child use a "master card" so that he can refer to it.
That is, A has a 1 over it, B has 2, C has 3, etc. Then write a message like "Dad +
Jimmy = _________." The problem is solved by changing each letter to a number, adding
them, and then getting the total. You can also use division by writing "Dad divided
by C = - ." (Likewise, you can use subtraction and multiplication as well.).
Teaching children to tell time would be far simpler if training clocks had only an hour
hand. If you happen to have a clock that Dad can take apart, remove the minute hand. Use a
clock face with Arabic numerals. By using this dock, initially, and having it designated
as "Johnny's clock," your child can see that it is "almost eleven," or
"halfway between nine and ten; or, -a little after seven." When your child
begins to understand words like "almost," "after," "in
between," and how to use them, he will be ready to move to the two-hand clock.
Counting backwards is a game that children like because it ends with
"Blast-off!" The skill of backwards counting is one that eventually develops the
ability to understand subtracting by ones. It is also a visualization skill. Try starting
from just "8" or "16" as practice. Count aloud with your child.
Counting and clustering real objects. Use beads or paper clips or buttons or poker
chips-anything your child can grasp and that is not too law or too tiny. Let him arrange
them into patterns or designs. Try clustering them into groups of two or three. Ask him
for a specific number or trade items with turn.
Concentration. This game can be played in a number of ways. Generally, a specific number
of playing cards are placed, face down, on the table. Your child turns a card over, one at
a time, attempting to match two cards. The game calls for remembering where specific cards
are placed, as he systematically searches for pairs. If he does not match a pair, cards
are kept face down. Pairs are removed from the table. The game can be played with two
"Fish" can also be played with playing cards. The object is to ask your opponent
if he has a card you need to make a pair. Each player starts with four cards. Players take
turns asking their opponent for a matching card. If the opponent does not have the
"match," the asking player draws from the card stack. The game however, can be
played as a multiplication game. Whatever pair is gotten, the child doubles or triples the
face value of the cards.
Maintaining a daily calendar teaches, in an almost incidental way, adding by seven and
multiplying by seven. Children can make their own calendars, with assistance, and then
keep track of the passage of tune by crossing out each day after it has passed.
There are many ways of using division around the house if opportunities are used when they
are available. In fact, creating them helps even more. Let your child assist you in
separating things into even clusters. For example, after baking cookies, let your child
assist you in solving the problem of how many should go into each place. As an incidental
factor, mention, "That's right, twenty-one cookies and seven plates means each person
gets three cookies-because 7 times 3 is 2 1. "
Mathematical, sequential reasoning enters into all kinds of daily uses.
Determining halves, quarters, thirds, et cetera, when separating things is done daily in
many households; for example, "Let's split this apple. You take half and I'll take
the other half." Asking children to follow the directions involved in simple cooking
activities gives them the opportunity to measure, mix, and follow a sequence to a natural
Counting with another activity is extremely helpful. Teachers call this the
"one-to-one correspondence." For example, as a child moves his piece in a board
game, have him count aloud each time he moves the piece. Have him count aloud as he takes
each step when he walks across the room. Have him clap his hands as he counts or clap for
each step as he hops across the yard.
The arithmetic children use in school, that is, number problems on a page, are really a
formalization of all kinds of experiences dealing with measurements, time, and space.
Children who are performing poorly in math at school do not need drilling
at home of specific problems. If they are to develop the foundations for competency in math,
they need multiple experiences that allow them to reason with numbers in their activities
of daily living. These activities will allow them, in turn, to develop the generalizations
necessary for handling the formal arithmetic they encounter at school. Enjoyable, fun
experiences will go further toward helping your child than a repetition of the frustration
he regularly faces when confronted with formal math.
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