Teaching Tips - Math

Always Add to Prepackaged Math Curriculums

As a general rule, I suggest, always "add" to prepackaged curriculums. One size doesn't fit all children, so don't be afraid to customize your math curriculum, to make it better for your child. Change how they are doing things, and add more things to it, to make it better for your child. To add things, look for things that are along the line of your child's interests.

Here are some things to consider for math curriculums:

Games are fun, and can be very educational. For younger children, the "Box Cars and One Eyed Jacks" book, with dice and cards, is excellent (that is "most" children like it - if you are going to use this, test it with your child). This book is also available in some libraries. And it is available here: http://www.planet.eon.net/~boxcars/prdts.htm (This is a Canadian product, but you can order it sent to the United States.)

You can also make up your own games. They don't need to be that complicated. Even a simple game can be a lot more interesting to a child, than working from a book, or doing math with pencil and paper.

Computer programs. If you use computer programs, there are lots of programs that are fun and teach math. The Clue Finders programs are very good. They are very educational and lots of fun.

Play money. For teaching about money, get play money (bills and coins), and play store. Usually I let them decide which items they want to buy, but I set the prices, to make sure they get lots of practice with all the different coins and bills.

Flashcards. For learning basic math facts (addition, multiplication, etc.), I use good old fashioned flashcards. The secret is to keep it fun. If they don't know the answer, I give it to them and get them to repeat it several times (make sure they know that repetition with impact/intensity helps them to learn it much faster - for more information on this, see our articles "Increasing Learning Through Impact" and
"Using Impact to Learn Math Facts").

Fraction builder blocks Either pie shaped or rectangular, are fine:

Fraction Builder Blocks

Usually the store bought sets are made of flat pieces of plastic. Or you can make your own out of cardboard.

Let them play with these several years before you teach them fractions, so they have an implicit understanding of what fractions are, before they do the math on paper.

Use Examples From the Real World

Use examples from the real world as much as you possibly can. And look at your child's interests for ideas. A good home school math curriculum should have lots of practical examples, but adding a few of your own, can really encourage your child.

It can be a bit of work for you, but if you get them using their math skills for real problems, it will really encourage them to learn their math well.

Here are a few ideas to help give you more ideas:

Addition: If you have 12 toy cars, and you get 5 more for your birthday, how many do you have now?

Subtraction: If there are 5 cookies left, and I eat 2, how many are left for you?

Multiplication: How many cookies do you need for a birthday party, if each child gets 3 cookies, and there are 5 guests (don't forget yourself, and your siblings)?

Division: If you have 24 marbles, and divide them among yourself and 3 friends, how many does each person get?

Fractions: If we cut a pizza (or cake, loaf of bread, etc.) into 5 pieces, and we eat 2 pieces, how much is left.

Obviously, these depend a lot on their exact age and their interests, but keep looking for things for them to "use" their math skills on.

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Work Carefully and Double Check
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