Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Making Math Fun for Young Kids

April is Mathematics Awareness Month, a national event that promotes the importance of mathematics.  And interesting research shows that a surprisingly early introduction of math concepts to children can help them succeed later in school and beyond.

How an early intro to math helps your kids later

Research supports the value of introducing math early – even in preschool ages. Early math skills development builds long-term academic potential.
For example, a landmark 2007 study showed that preschool math lessons in a program funded by the National Science Foundation failure showed remarkable score improvements, helping young children develop mathematics knowledge that reduced future risk of school failure. And a massive research initiative from 2011 analyzed data from more than 16 thousand children comparing activities or traits thought to be influential in determining a child’s future success potential; the researchers concluded that no other metric influenced success more than early math skills. More research in 2012 and a 2013 NIH-funded study supported these other studies’ results, showing that elementary-or-earlier math learning set a foundation for later math success.

Math success pays off with career success

The value of math skills extends far beyond school success. Career statistics show that the success potential of a student climbs with their mastery of math.  According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, all of the highest paying U.S. occupations require mathematics skills to enter the field or to succeed within the job itself.  (Click the “See How to Become One” link found under each of the top 20 occupations.)

How to make math fun

Getting your kids to see math as fun may not be as hard as you might think. Math experts say that youngsters learn through play. Many of the following ideas and exercises use play to teach math concepts.
First, don’t forget that math happens all around our kids everyday:
  • Division for a first grader sound impossible? If a TV show starts in 3 minutes and there are 3 kids who get a turn with a toy before the show starts, most 7-year-olds can figure out that each child gets one minute with the toy.
  • Splitting up a pizza or desert pie is a great way to teach fractions, such as one fourth or one sixth. 
  • Teaching addition and subtraction can be fun on a long drive using the mile-marker signs, using concepts of how many miles to go or how many you’ve traveled since the state’s border.
Here are great math resources for parents to help make math fun:
  • Math is Fun, predictably, is the perfect website to start. It organizes math activities by subject and by age group, from Kindergarten to 12th grade.
  • Make Learning Math Fun, an article on Parent.com’s site, offers great tips too.
  • Check out the Math Subject Center at EducationWorld.com.
  • Cool Math Games is a site with countless online games that teach math in a fun and competitive way.  Unfortunately the games aren’t organized by age or grade, so you’ll have to play a few yourself to determine if they are right for your child. 
  • For your pre-Kindergartner, check out this site, with more than 30 math games and exercises for the younger set. 

Finally, don’t forget to boost your child’s ability to grasp math concepts by giving them a good breakfast.  As we reported here, studies reported by the Food Research and Action Center on the importance of a healthy breakfast show that students who eat breakfast increase their math and reading scores. 

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer

No comments:

Post a Comment