Extra Credit! Math Made Fun: A Resource for Parents


Think back to those wonder years when you were back in grade school. If you made a list of your favorite classes in school, where would math class be on your list?

For many kids today, just as in the past, math is often at the bottom of their lists. Some kids have heard that math is hard to do from other kids, but also from adults. That’s unfortunate, because  math is so important for so many facets of our daily lives. But math is also crucial for our long-term career and financial success, as well as national security and growth.

The truth is that math is all around us and, yes, doing math can be fun. For parents, one of the best ways to help their kids succeed in math is to show them how math is part of our everyday lives and can, in fact, be fun.

The key is to take advantage of teaching opportunities!

For example, how often do you compare prices while shopping in a grocery store, as you try to see how much you can save on a box of cereal by using a coupon. Or if you’re on a diet or health plan, do you review the nutrition information on the packages. These are all examples of math in action.

And they all would be a great teaching opportunity for parents to show their kids how math helps them make valuable decisions.

Another such opportunity comes with allowance.  Encourage them use math to see how much they’ll have left of their allowance after buying a new pair of shoes or seeing a movie with friends. Finding other ways that math is used in real life is actually very easy. Just consider how often you have to make calculations as you drive your car, schedule your day or prepare meals.

Math Will Play a Part in a Future Career

Does your child dream of becoming an astronaut, firefighter, police officer, race car driver, doctor or writer? Take the time to show them how math is involved in that person’s training – and success.

If your child counters that, “I’m going to be in a career that doesn’t require me to know math,” you’ll probably need to explain the facts about math’s importance in practically every career.

Yes, there are some careers that require more math skills than others, but most jobs involve math in some way. Even careers that don’t seem to require much math, such as music and the arts, actually benefit from a strong foundation in math. At the very least, you’ll need math to figure out the pay check you receive for any job.

For instance, say your child plans to be a veterinarian. He or she loves animals and wants to care for them. A veterinarian needs to have math skills in order to figure out the proper dose of medicine for a sick pet. Also, a vet must be able to maintain good financial records in order to stay in business. More importantly, math is a crucial part of the studies veterinarians have to undergo so that they know how to diagnose and care for pets and animals with illnesses. In short, although it appears as though a vet wouldn’t need to know math, take the time to point out that it does a play a big part in the work. Computer software designers, construction workers, teachers (not just math teachers), doctors, and bus drivers are just a few other examples of careers where math skills are necessary for success.

Encourage Your Kids to Use Math to Answer Questions

Math can come in handy in many activities. For instance, your child may want to buy a shirt at the mall, but you insist that that the shirt’s original price is too high. A week later, your child notices that the shirt is on sale at 30% off the original price. If he or she knows how to calculate percentages and can come up with the new price, you may let him or her buy the shirt.

How often do you travel by car for a family vacation. Invariably, someone will ask “are we there yet”? This is another opportunity to practice basic math skills, so ask your child to figure out when the family will arrive. Your child will need to find out how fast you are traveling in miles per hour (MPH), then factor in the amount of miles left in the trip.