Building Math Skills
Tips for Parents
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Count to 24 by fours, to 30 by sixes, to 40 by eights.
Make up story problems around math facts such as 12-4=8. For example, 12 elephants started the race but 4 stopped along the way; how many finished? If the stories are silly or funny, so much the better.
Another way to see how well your child understands numbers is to play board games that call for markers to be moved forward and backward so many spaces -- for example, "Now you can move six spaces forward." A considerable amount of mathematics is embedded in games such as dominoes and Monopoly. Chess, which involves strategy as well as mathematics, would be a particularly good game to introduce and play.
Many games will reveal your child's knowledge of numbers as well as of words and directions. Play tic-tac-toe, dots, checkers, concentration, hangman, Scrabble, and increasingly complex card games.
Ask your child to use a ruler to measure something in the house -- a rectangular table, a room, a bookshelf. You will learn a good deal about your child's measurement skills.
See how many math symbols or notations you and your child can find in the newspaper. Such symbols might include +, -, =, ½, 10:15, a date such as 6/30/92, shapes such as a circle or triangle, or graphs.
There are many opportunities for counting during everyday activities. While cooking you could ask, "Can you count out eight potatoes?" or ask, "Can you put ten cookies and four apples on the plate for dessert?"
While cooking or baking, ask your child to read the recipe and measure the quantities of ingredients called for; three and a half tablespoons of sugar, two and a quarter cups of flour, and the like. This is a good way to see your child put math to use.
Fractions are part of the math curriculum in the third grade. Ask your child to explain, with examples, such fractions as 1/8, 1/16, and 1/32. Find such measurements on a ruler, a graph, a measuring cup, or a jar.
With a stopwatch, see how quickly your child can run 40 yards. Together, record and graph the times over several weeks. There is an almost limitless number of activities of this kind. You can also move into calculations such as, "How fast did you go per second in feet? In yards? Or, "If you continued to run at the same speed, how long would it take you to run 400 yards? How about 600 yards?"
Reprinted from 101 Educational Conversations with Your 3rd Grader by Vito Perrone, published by Chelsea House Publishers.
Copyright 1994 by Chelsea House Publishers, a division of Main Line Book Co. All rights reserved.