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How To Help Your Child Learn Math at Home

How To Help Your Child Learn Math at Home

More and more in my teaching career, I see that children no longer memorize their addition facts or multiplication tables. With the math curriculum as extensive as it is, teachers cannot afford to take the time to ensure that students learn the basic facts (sad, but true). Parents are partners in the process, and you can offer greater opportunities for your child to succeed in math if you support the learning of the basics at home. Games fit the bill wonderfully!

Math games for kids and families are the perfect way to reinforce and extend the skills children learn at school. They are one of the most effective ways that parents can develop their child’s math skills without lecturing or applying pressure. When studying math, there’s an element of repetition that’s an important part of learning new concepts and developing automatic recall of math facts. Number facts (remember those times tables?) can be boring and tedious to learn and practice. A game can generate an enormous amount of practice – practice that does not have kids complaining about how much work they are having to do. What better way can there be than an interesting game as a way of mastering them?

Games are fun and create a context for developing children’s mathematical reasoning. Through playing and analyzing games, children also gain computational fluency by describing more efficient strategies and discussing relationships among numbers.

Games offer a pleasant way for you, as parents, to get involved in your child’s mathematics education. You don’t have to be a math genius to play a game. You don’t have to worry about pushing or pressuring your child. All that you have to do is propose a game to your child and start to play.

Here is a list of objectives or goals children should achieve during each grade level and how to help:

Kindergarten expectations
First Grade expectations
Second Grade expectations
Third Grade expectations
Fourth Grade expectations
Fifth Grade expectations and Standards
Sixth Grade expectations and Standards

Why Cards and Dice May Be Better Than Computer Games

Why Cards and Dice May Be Better Than Computer Games

There is no doubt in my mind that, as the Internet continues to play a larger role in education, a growing number of online sites will host free math games, most of which are challenging, exciting, fun, and age-appropriate. That’s all well and good.

But above all else, children crave time spent with their parents. Because learning is a social process, children learn best through fun games and activities that involve interaction with other people.

Stanley Greenspan, M.D., a clinical professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at George Washington University School of Medicine and author of many influential parenting books, says playing games with parents helps children develop the social skills necessary for getting along with others and is core to their healthy development.

“When you play games with your children”, Greenspan says, “you’re not only connecting and engaging, you’re exchanging back- and-forth emotional signals, which are helping the child regulate mood and behavior, learning to read social signals and learning to communicate. Each of these abilities contributes to a child’s sense of security.”

Seize this opportunity to teach them your values, and indulge them with your own undivided attention. Try a math game with your kids. A price cannot be put on the quality of the time you will have spent with your children. They will have fun while learning, and they will remember those times with greater fondness than the times they spent playing the educational computer game.

And lastly but of great importance, among the obvious benefits of sitting down and playing a good game with your children is the opportunity that games provide to apply and solidify the mathematical reasoning and calculating skills your children are learning in school. When children play on-line or video games, parents may know how the child scores, but do they know where they made mistakes and why? Playing games with your child offers you, as a parent, a greater opportunity to know what your child’s strengths and weaknesses in mathematics are.

The Benefits of Using Games To Teach Math To Children

The Benefits of Using Games To Teach Math To Children

• Meets your state’s grade-level mathematics standards
• Easily linked to your child’s mathematics textbook
• Offers many opportunities for you to discover your child’s strengths and weaknesses
• Meets the needs of diverse learners, such as English-language learners and special needs children
• Supports concept development in math
• Encourages mathematical reasoning
• Engaging (maintains interest)
• Repeatable (reuse often & sustain involvement
• Open-ended (allows for multiple approaches & solutions)
• Easy to prepare
• Easy to vary for extended use such as making any game harder, easier, or just changing it to meet the needs of your child
• Improves basic skills, i.e., addition and multiplication facts
• Enhances number and operation sense
• Encourages strategic thinking
• Promotes mathematical communication
• Promotes positive attitudes toward math

Using Playing Cards and Dice To Teach Math

Using Playing Cards and Dice To Teach Math

I began playing math games with my students using regular decks of cards.  However, over the years, I developed my own cards for several important reasons:

  • Regular cards do not have a zero, and zero is much too important in our base ten system to leave out.  Turning a queen or king into a zero is confusing for most children.
  • While teaching first grade, I discovered the ten-frame.  It allowed children to easily count the dots, if they needed to do so and  anchored the students to ten – a very important learning tool with our base 10 numbering system.  It is easy to see how many more are needed to make 10 if you have a 7, or 5, or 9, etc.
  • And lastly, these cards help children see if a number is odd or even.  If there is a dot that doesn’t have a partner, it is an odd number.  If all dots have a partner, it is an even number.
  • Masters for the these special cards can be found on the CD with directions for printing, laminating, and cutting out.



(random number generators)

All that you will really need are regular dice.  They are really cheap and easy to find at stores such as The Dollar Tree, the 99¢ Store, etc.  For the most part, you will need two dice.  There are a couple of games that require more.  One of my favorites is Oops! which requires five dice.

I also like those 1 ½ inch foam dice for younger children. You can get 12 for $4.99 (plus shipping and handling) at the Oriental Trading Company.  They make counting the dots much easier.

Some games need parent-made dice.  I buy those small wooden cubes from a crafts store or an educational supply store and mark them according to the instructions on the game.