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Helping Your Child Build Basic Math Skills

Here are some ways to encourage your child to develop solid math skills throughout the elementary years, suggests an article in Louisville, Kentucky’s Courier-Journal.com.

I agree with every single suggestion except for the last one – “Buy a few inexpensive, age-appropriate math workbooks for your child to use at home.”

As an elementary math specialist, parents often ask for suggestions about activities to do with their children at home to help further their mathematical understanding. I’ve been teaching math to children for many years, and I’ve found that math games are, from a teacher’s and a parent’s point of view, wonderfully useful. Math games put children in exactly the right frame of mind for learning. Children are normally very eager to play games. They relax when they play, and they concentrate. They don’t mind repeating certain facts or procedures over and over.

Children throw themselves into playing games the way they never throw themselves into filling out workbook pages or dittos. And games can help children learn almost everything they need to master in elementary math. Good, child-centered games are designed to take the boredom and frustration out of the repetitive practice necessary for children to master important math skills and concepts.

Playing math games is even more beneficial than spending the same amount of time drilling basic facts using flash cards. Not only are games a lot more fun, but the potential for learning and reasoning about mathematics is much greater, as well. In a non-threatening game format, children will be more focused and retention will be greater.

Games have another use, too. They 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.

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?

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