One of the concepts that any math student must master if they hope to succeed in algebra or other advanced math courses is the coordinate grid.  If you are looking to help your child learn about this concept, you should simply invest in some graphing paper and a pencil. First, have your child fold a sheet of graphing paper in half lengthwise.  Then, fold it again along the width of the paper.  When you open the sheet up, you should have two folds forming what looks roughly like the four different directions of a directional compass with the lines all intersecting roughly at the center of the paper.  Explain to your child that you are going on a journey and this is the origin point.  Its value is zero (o).  Then show them that everything heading from the right or left of this point is traveling along the folded line called the x-axis.  If the point is to the right (in the easterly direction of the compass), then the value of x is positive.  If the point is to the left (in the westerly direction of the compass), then the value of x is negative.  So if you move five squares to the right the value of x is 5 but if you move eight squares to the left the value of x is -8.

Then explain to your child that the vertical folded line is called the y-axis.  Any number above the origin (in the northerly direction) is positive while anything below the origin (in the southerly direction) is negative.  Therefore, a point that is six squares above the origin has a y value of 6.  However, a point that is 4 squares below the origin has a y value of -4.

Now, you should point out to your child that points on a coordinate grid are expressed by writing two numbers in parentheses separated by a comma like this:  (5, -8).  This means that the x value is 5 and the y value is -8.  In order to plot this on the same piece of graph paper, the child would move five spaces to the right of the origin point and then eight spaces down.

The idea here is to have your child practice this by plotting a variety of points until it almost becomes second nature to him or her.  After that, it is easy to find activities online such as fun math games to help reinforce these skills.  These games give your child the extra bit of practice to make them more comfortable with the concept so that it becomes ingrained.

The coordinate grid may sound like “scary” math but it doesn’t have to be.  It is actually a quite easy concept that visual and kinesthetic learners can easily pick up with some simple materials and great resources.