5 Tips to Make the Most of Everyday Math Learning Opportunities

The web is full of sites that are designed to help parents teach math to their children. The DreamBox website offers parent tips for each grade level, and we include math games and fun activities parents can do with their children every month in our parent newsletter. The more parents tune in to the math learning possibilities in daily family life, the more their children will appreciate that math is everywhere and it’s relevant to them.

But most parent tip sites focus on the math activities themselves. I haven’t seen much that helps parents bring a gentle teaching mindset to math activities, or helps parents make the most of everyday math learning opportunities. Here are some suggestions for HOW to nurture a life-long interest in math and a sense that math can be fun.

  1. Listen for and respond to your child’s innate curiosity –- build on what he’s already interested in and he’ll be motivated to learn.
  2. Don’t try to turn every situation into a textbook math problem. Turning casual inquiries into a math drill is a quick way to turn curiosity off!
  3. It’s OK to start without enough information and undefined terms. Learning to ask clarifying questions is the way kids learn how to solve problems.
  4. It’s ok to begin with a problem that’s too complicated. Learning to pose a simpler question is also part of learning to solve problems.
  5. Don’t be afraid to leave questions unanswered for another time -– let kids mull over their ideas, giving them time to marinate.

DreamBox counts many nurturing parents in our community! We’d love to hear your ideas on how best to foster curiosity and interest in math!

  • Your advice are really helpful, but sometimes I find it difficult to apply quite ecerything. It’s really strange when my little sister asks me a math question (she’s in the fifths grade) which I can’t answer. You won’t believe what children learn today in maths’ class. I guess things were quite the same when I was in highscool too, I remember my mom helping me with some maths homework and telling me that she was learning that stuff as a college student..

  • Sue

    You’re right, the math concepts themselves don’t change, but when they’re taught and the way they’re taught is often different now than when I was in school too. Which can make it challenging when we want to help! That’s partly why we approach teaching math with the spirit of making it an interesting and fun process of exploration, even while it’s challenging. That motivation is what kids really need to develop a life-long appreciation of math.

    Thanks so much for reading the DreamBox blog, and for helping your sister! I wish you both good luck with your math studies.