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Parents as Math Teachers

Parents, Children, and Math Games

Math games for kids and families are the perfect way to reinforce and extend the skills children learn at school. They can also be a dynamic, motivating mathematics instructional tool for homeschoolers. 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 parents of homeschoolers to energize the memorization of basic math skills.

Here are some other benefits of using math games in the homeschooling context:

• 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 meeting 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

Teachers Search for Ways to Energize Math

As an independent, elementary mathematics consultant, I work with elementary teachers all the time as they search for ways to motivate and energize their students in math. I just read the following article about Indiana elementary teachers on that very quest. Take a look at how a grant brought together ISU professors and Vincennes teachers.

One of the instructional strategies they are trying are math games, an effective, hands-on way to teach math concepts. No matter which textbook your district uses, games can easily be incorporated into instruction. Some textbook companies are “seeing the light” and have begun to implement games as a part of each unit.

Even if your textbook does not incorporate games, identify a skill need almost all your students have, and give a game a try. I guarantee it will be more of a learning experience for the students and more informative for you of what your students know and can do than a workbook page.

Here are some of the many benefits of using math games in the classroom:

• Meets your state’s elementary mathematics standards
• Easily linked to any mathematics textbook
• Offers multiple assessment opportunities
• Meets the needs of diverse learners
• 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 & differentiated instruction
• Improves basic skills
• Enhances number and operation sense
• Encourages strategic thinking
• Promotes mathematical communication
• Promotes positive attitudes toward math
• Encourages parent involvement

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