Three Ways Moms and Teachers Can Help Kids Increase Their Math Skills

Today, every education reformer is pushing the importance of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) classes and skills in a child's school life.  These are the areas that will define the job market for the next several decades and which will be the most in demand.  As such, it is imperative that teachers and parents do all that they can to help their students and children to increase their math skills, particularly in the early grade levels.  There are literally hundreds of ideas out there including practice workbooks and flashcards and online math games which are all very valuable tools when it comes to reinforcing math skills.  But here are three ideas which include fields which are unfortunately not getting as much attention in schools but which can provide your child with a strong grounding in math.

1.  Cooking-Home Economics has been a dying art form in the classroom, but it actually can serve a twofold purpose.  First off, it can teach your child how to cook, which will be a lifelong skill which will benefit him or her greatly.  But secondly, it has the added bonus of teaching basic mathematics skills with practical applications.  A child learning how to follow a step-by-step recipe is learning the same basic application to follow a mathematical formula to reach its conclusion.  Measurements are also intricately involved in the cooking process.  While supervising the cooking process, a parent can also use this time to do comparisons by asking which measuring cup or spoon is larger and which is smaller.  This type of comparison is a key component of early math skills.  Adding and subtracting can be discussed as you add ingredients or take away amounts if you over-estimate a measurement.  Finally, proportions can be discussed as you talk about how to increase a recipe which feeds four if you need it to feed six or eight or how to reduce it if you only need it to feed two.

2.  Music-Unfortunately, music programs have been losing ground in schools due to budget cuts.  That is why parents should pick up the difference, if possible, with private music lessons.  There is a strong correlation between musical ability and knowledge and mathematical ability.  Part of this comes from the sharpening of cognitive skills that is aided by musical instruction.  Children learn a great deal of patience that becomes of great importance when taking on anything difficult, including math.  But music also teaches children to measure out rhythms in counts or beats.  All of this is mathematical.  The patterns found in musical rhythms can also be useful in early mathematics and logic when finding patterns is of such great importance.

3.  Art-Another area that has been cut back in schools is art lessons.  But art, unlike music, can be encouraged with a limited knowledge on the parent's part with not much in the way of supplies.  In fact, markers and construction paper from the dollar store can be your best friend.  Art projects can teach measurements, shapes, patterns, symmetry, and spatial reasoning skills that can be of great use in early and advanced math courses such as geometry.

All of these areas have been cut from many school systems due to cuts in the schools' budgets.  But they also can all be used by parents and educators as a piece in the puzzle of how to reach students and teach them mathematical skills which they will need later in their lives.