Last time, I talked about the different everyday activities that could get your child enthusiastic about maths. This time, I’ll be going into two more activities that are more obvious in terms of educational environments.
This is probably one of the most obvious places of education. The kitchen not only provides ample opportunities for mathematical calculations, but it also provides pride and enjoyment from cooking your own home-cooked meals.
Discuss the various quantities of ingredients you have to mix together for your meals. For example, “We need 1 cup of sugar but only have these ¼ and ⅓ cups to measure with. What can we do?” And just like that, you’ll have a fraction problem sum on your hands.
Also further question “What else can we do?” once he gets the correct answer. Knowing that there is often more than one way to solve a problem provides comfort for children who think in different ways. Using scales to weigh the ingredients, for example, gets your children to pick up the skill of reading numbers and learning about decimals. Calculating when the food will be ready gives the knowledge of time, but also encourages basic number strategies. For example, “The recipe says ‘chill for 30 minutes’. It’s 11:50 am now, when will it be ready?” And finally, fraction concepts could be further developed by cutting a cake into equal parts. Every child will want their fair share of that chocolate cake!
Shops are the perfect places to teach about counting numbers, especially those neighbourhood shops near your local HDB flats, where the shopowners are more accommodating in letting you teach your children about money during the purchase. For example, “1, 2, 3, 4, 5. We have 5 apples in the plastic bag.” Another practice you could enforce is the use of comparisons. “Do we have more apples or oranges?”
As parents who like to save money, we would often choose the item that represents the better value by comparing “the price per 100 gram” – verbalising your thinking helps kids to refind their own mental processes. Budgeting, adding monetary values and calculating how much change you have left are all skills that benefit from practice in a real-life situation.
For older P5/P6 children, parents can give $10 and a small shopping list to help foster a sense of independence. The Christmas sales coming up in around two months can give kids purposeful reasons to apply their knowledge of percentages just to convince you that toy is a real bargain!
And just like that, parents can make everyday experiences a meaningful lesson in maths. Showing how maths is used in daily tasks provide the perfect balance for the more formal learning of the classroom. Maths is an area where both teacher and parent input is necessary.