We all tend to learn things best when we are having fun, and this is especially true of children. Math, with its multiplication, addition, subtraction, division and so on, can be boring for children. However, they will need math skills throughout life, if only to check they have been given the right change when they shop as adults. One way to teach children math in a way that is interesting and fun is through math games.
Actively engaging young students in a game can remove all the stress and worry that learning complicated math the traditional way can impose. When they see a math playground, instead of a math classroom, they are much more likely to be interested and have fun, while retaining more of what they learn at the same time. Math games can involve quite complicated logic, and not just the times tables either. Your child will have fun and learn important skills when they play math games.
Children can lose important math skills over the summer break
McKinsey and Company produced a report in 2009 showing that, during each summer break, most children lose on average about two to three months of all the math skills they have learned over the past year. Taken in the isolation of a single child, this might not seem all that serious, but taken over the country as a whole, it means that it costs the nation’s economy $670 billion dollars in time wasted.
In tests undertaken in both Florida and Texas, volunteer children played a specialized math game over the summer break. They reported having fun with it, and more crucially, they not only retained the math skills they have learned over the past year, but, in some cases, managed to build on those skills and increase their math abilities.
Play math games with your children to help them learn
Educational lessons and games should be fun. Your child will learn better and faster if they enjoy what they do. Children naturally like playing around on a computer, exploring virtual worlds, so it’s usually an easy jump to persuade them to learn math in some form, long division, algebraic reasoning or whatever, through a fun game.
This is a wonderful opportunity for some family bonding. Young children in particular love fun time spent with their parents, and math practice in the form of a game played by the whole family can certainly be a cool way to help your child learn, or help them retain the skills they have already learned.
Perhaps more importantly, if a child is left to play math games alone, they will fail at some things and excel at others. You will not know what their strengths and weaknesses are, and will therefore be unable to help them properly. If you play with them you will be able to see where they are doing well and where they need to practice more.
When it comes to doing homework, math is probably at the bottom of most children’s list. One study revealed that 84% of children would rather do mundane chores, such as cleaning their rooms or taking out the trash, than do math homework. They even cited going to the dentist as preferable. This is where math games can really help. They put the fun back into education. Decimals and fractions can go from being daunting and frustrating, to being easy and fun.
Where can you find suitable math games for your child to play?
The Internet is probably the best and easiest source of math games. There are many excellent sites that allow you to play a wide variety of games free. Some games can have favorite TV characters in the games, making the whole experience even more fun.
The Internet also has games of different levels, and finding one that suits your child’s skill level is easy. It’s a cool way to learn – for children and parents. MathNook.com has a variety of fun math games as well as math worksheets, math worksheet generators and teaching tools.
School is back in session and that means, for a lot of parents, headaches are already starting as children are coming home, dragging in their book-bags, and complaining of too much homework. Everyone wants their children to succeed in school, but many are lost as to how to actually do this. Here are some guidelines on how to help you guide your child through the homework process so that they can be a successful student.
- First and foremost, you must get your child on a schedule. The rule of thumb is that elementary school children can expect 20 to 40 minutes of homework a night while students in middle and high school can expect up to two hours. So plan for this. Buy a calendar and schedule in the homework around all of the other activities that your child might have like karate, ballet, baseball, and church. If your child has a favorite TV show that comes on a certain time each day, put this in to their schedule. Just like work, fun time needs to be regimented so that they don’t feel like they never have any opportunity to relax. But once you have established the schedule, it is imperative that you stick to it.
- A child also needs a place to study. If you have a family room or den, set aside a desk or table just as a homework area. This should be a quiet place to work, read, and study, that is also well-lit. Remove distractions like television and also keep the area as low-traffic as possible. Younger siblings with no homework should not be playing in the area and causing distractions.
- Keep the study area well-stocked with resources. If your child needs pens, pencils, paper, crayons, scissors, glue and the like for their school work, then chances are you need to keep these on hand at home for their homework. In addition, you should also keep reference materials, including an internet connected computer if possible, on hand for the child to use if needed.
- Organization doesn’t just happen at home. Many schools are now providing children with agendas to write down their homework assignments daily. In fact, several school systems require parents to initial these agendas daily as a monitoring check of the homework. If your child’s school doesn’t provide an agenda, buy them one. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. Just a small spiral notebook will suffice. But make sure that they are writing down their assignments each and every day so that they are staying on top of their work.
- Don’t listen if your child says that they don’t have any homework. I know, we all remember how great it was to not have any homework and I’m not saying that a child should never have a night off. But if your child doesn’t have any homework, this would be the perfect time to review with them. Go over spelling or vocabulary words. Break out the flashcards and just drill for five or ten minutes over addition or multiplication. Or give them time to go online and play educational games at websites like Math Nook or Spelling City.
- Look over your child’s homework. Once finished, have your child pass everything off to you and look it over to see that it is done completely and correctly. This will not only help with completion and accuracy, but it will also show your child that you are legitimately interested in his or her success.
- Set the tone in your household. Whenever you can, turn off the television and sit down with a book. Let your child see that you value education and knowledge. Even if you hated a subject like math, don’t ever admit to that or call a subject “boring” because your children will pick up on that mentality.
If you do all of these things, there is no guarantee that your child will graduate as class valedictorian. But you will see a marked increase in his or her grades and a significant improvement in attitude toward learning. Remember, you are ultimately your child’s first teacher and you need to help them in this regard.
Anyone who has watched education closely over the last decade is quite familiar with the term STEM. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) are collectively the four branches which the government is currently putting special emphasis on because of our alarmingly low test scores in these areas. Along with this special emphasis is also a lot of money, with federal budgets being increased specifically for these departments. However, one problem that many people are noting about these fields is that they are grossly underrepresented by women. Traditionally, boys are pushed into math and science related jobs while girls are often pushed into the “softer, more emotional” humanities. This cultural stereotype has even been reinforced by something as seemingly innocuous as our children’s toys, most famously with the “Math Is Hard” Barbie that eventually led to a recall and apology from Mattel.
So how do you encourage your daughter to succeed in this competitive, mathematical world when the deck seems to be stacked against her? While we cannot change centuries of stereotypes and cultural conditioning, here are some tips for helping your child move forward in this field.
- First off, mothers need to be positive role models for their daughters. This goes for every area of life, obviously. But with math, you may have to “fudge the facts” just a little. If you hated math in school and were never very good at it, or if you always thought fractions were boring, don’t pass this on to your child. Tell them that you struggled with it, but try to place this in a positive context. You don’t want your child to hear you say that “math is boring” because then she will pick this up and start to feel that way too.
- For younger children, give them hands-on opportunities to experience math. Let them help you with balancing the family checkbook. Have them help out in the kitchen and emphasize how measurements are an important part of math. Let them give the money to the cashier at the store and then figure up the correct change they should receive back. All of this will help create bonding opportunities for you with your child and also give valuable practical math lessons to them.
- If your daughter is assigned a biography or research project, why not suggest that they look into famous women mathematicians? Instead of the tried and true historical figures that dot every school research paper, encourage your daughter to find out more about Sofia Kovalevskaya, Hypatia of Alexandria, or Ingrid Daubechies. Seeing that women have been able to accomplish a lot in the field of math throughout history will go a long way towards encouraging your daughter that she can be one of these pioneers some day.
- Make sure to emphasize that math is fun. Bookmark websites like Math Nook which makes mathematics into games which children of either gender will appreciate and find fun. This will help do away with the “math is boring” stereotype that plagues so many children.
- Take your daughter on your own field trip. Call around to local engineering firms and universities to see if there are any female members of the staff who would be willing to meet with your daughter and allow her to shadow them for a day. Many of these women are well aware of the anti-math stereotype among girls and will be happy to do what they can to help shatter this myth.
- Usually, elementary age girls love math. It isn’t until middle and high school that the anti-math mentality starts to set in. To combat this, consider buying the math book series written by Danica McKellar, the actress best known for playing Winnie on The Wonder Years. Winnie is all grown up with a degree in mathematics and she is the writer behind Math Doesn’t Suck: How to Survive Middle-School Math and not Break a Nail. This book, along with others in the series, is designed like popular magazines geared for teen girls and use things they can relate to like make-up, recipes, and relationships to explain complex ideas like fractions and decimals.
- Ask your child’s math teacher for a list of the topics that she will be covering this year. That way, you can help show an interest by knowing exactly what they will be discussing and learning about as the school term progresses.
Again, it is impossible for even the most caring parent to change centuries of stereotyping. But by showing an interest, you can personally help your child break through the barrier and learn to love math.
Students love MathMan so we’ve come up with a new version of it that involves rounding. If you’re not familiar with our MathMan games, they are PacMan with a mathematical twist. In the case of MathMan Rounding the mathematical twist is rounding. The beauty of the MathMan series is that they stand on their own as a fun arcade game yet they reinforce math skills. Want to play it? Click the link: MathMan Rounding
Three new math games added:
Mathematical Mining Moles – practice your telling time or decimal knowledge
Brain Shapes – A fun puzzle game that involves addition
Keep Learning – Choose the math quest or choose the geography, typing or rhythm quests