Guest Educator

Do Math Every Day

by Eileen Delaney

This month’s Guest Educator, Eileen Delaney, is a teacher and math coordinator at The Crossroads School in Paoli, PA. MetroKids invites educators to contribute articles that offer insights to other teachers and parents. Please send ideas to editor@metrokids.com

Daily reading is well documented as a necessary activity for students. Math practice every day is also vital to maintain math skills. It is another thing to fit into your child’s daily schedule. Doing math every day doesn’t have to be a burden. In fact, it can be as fun as reading a book.

As you know, your child watches what you do and often imitates your example. How often do we hear ourselves in what our children say? Avoid being negative about math; your child hears that, too. Verbalize when you are using math, for example, when you’re counting coins, using a calendar or cooking. Try to include your child in the math you are doing.

Math Toolkit
Any young mathematician should have a clock or watch with a face, a calendar, a ruler or tape measure and an allowance. We learn by doing. Using everyday objects and activities increases familiarity with them.

There are many easy and useful ways to incorporate math into your life every day. Let your child help you cook. Talk about measuring. Explore fractions such as 1/2 of a cup or 1/8 of a teaspoon. Compare cooking temperatures and cooking times of different food. Use a measuring cup to see what a serving size actually looks like. Ask questions such as: Which is hotter? Which takes longer?

Other easy ways to use math: Use that watch or clock to time commercials and calculate the actual running time of a show. Look at the running times of movies and convert the minutes to hours and minutes. Record in a journal the time spent sleeping, eating, watching TV, reading and doing math. Then record these times as fractions of a day with 24 hours as the denominator (bottom number). You could then convert the fraction to a decimal and then a percent.

Use the ruler and/or tape measure to measure your child’s height every month. Record the height on a graph and predict growth for each month.

Estimate the height or length of things and then measure them. Find out the length of your index finger or foot and then use that information to estimate lengths by using your fingers and feet. (My husband’s foot is about one foot long, and it comes in handy when we buy household items.)

Allowance as Teaching Tool
An allowance is a great way to start your child handling, counting and becoming familiar with money. Give an allowance for completing chores. Have your child decide what to do with it.

Provide a book so your child can record how much he has and subtract what is spent. Give the allowance in varying denominations — maybe a dollar one time and 4 quarters the next.

Of course, there are many other ways to include math in your child’s daily life. So take up the challenge! Try to use math once every day with your child, and watch her interest and skills soar.