Enjoying Math with your Family

JMJ  *If you consider yourself to be mathematically challenged, as I felt in several areas, give it another chance.  I know I wasn’t as fascinated, as a child, as I am now, about factor trees and cancellation opportunities.  I missed a lot in my first round of math!  

RING THE SCHOOL BELL 82/190 days

What’s as nice as a “maid’s been here” look in your home?  Of course, a backyard with a well-manicured “rest area” look, as one of those we have seen on our family’s many road trips!  That is the look we are striving for in our Termini family edition of “Backyard Makeover”. Time for mulching and planting! Today we randomly placed stones in the dry creek bed for a more natural look.  I never imagined it would be such a long process to finish this project, but every little stone placed, gets us closer to our goal.

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Helping Sabrina with her college applications is ultimately going to push my little bird out of our cozy little family nest.  Down deep I know it is a natural process, but it does make me sad at times, like today.  She has lingered in her happy childhood long enough, and it is time to let her fly. 

We skipped the community college opportunity this semester so the kids could enjoy a more peaceful and sane mom that has more time to sit down and assist them with their studies.  It may sound crazy but I love the luxury of having the time to sit down and watch those Uncle Buck algebra and geometry DVDs, and solving mathematical problems together.  The problems are like puzzles to me and are still a challenge at times!

How to enjoy math with your kids

With many kids, at least with my family, assigning math problems and expecting that no help will be needed, is unrealistic.  Especially as math gets more complex over the years, my girls have needed a bit of support.  Unless, you have a kid like Sarah, who I just got in the way of most of the time.  “I know that mom!”, she would repeatedly tell me. 

If a math tutor is in your budget, I am so happy for you!  We went with piano and art lessons, instead, with nothing left in the budget for math.  Besides, I kind of enjoy tutoring math, in a reluctant sort of way.   

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If you consider yourself to be mathematically challenged, as I felt in several areas, give it another chance.  I know I wasn’t as fascinated as a child as I am now about factor trees and cancellation opportunities.  I missed a lot in my first round of math.  I was one of those kids who daydreamed while looking out the classroom window, counting the minutes until school was out.  So in many ways, as an adult, it is all new and interesting.  This has enabled me to be of some use to my kids in this area.  Give it another try!

Get ready to enjoy math with these ideas!  (They do still require some effort:)

  • Scenario- Are you tired of needing to help your child with every few problems while you are trying to attend to other tasks?  Have you ever experienced this?  Here is the solution.  To minimize frustration, and to be there when called upon,  block out 30 minutes or so, and sit down with a cup of tea and perhaps the newspaper, next to your child who is doing his math. Your kids will appreciate it and make you feel good about being so smart😊.  I usually help with the problem and then see if there are other similar ones they can then do on their own. So they don’t feel like I am hovering, and making them nervous,  I go back to reading the paper or knitting or doodling, until they need me again.  Many times, your child may be hung up on some little detail of the math problem, and your intermittent assistance enables them to conquer their problems successfully, while you are taking a break of sorts from household tasks.

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  • Get out the manipulatives if you are helping a young child. Being at home, take advantage of your huge inventory.  Use the plush animals or other small toys to illustrate mathematical concepts, and then let them drift into the land of imagination with their toys after they are done.

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  • Use a white board to illustrate concepts.  There is something about the dry erase marker gliding on the surface of the white board.  It almost feels like art, as problems are being solved. Well, almost. A little doodle here and there adds amusing interest to an intimidating problem.  Also, allow your child to work out their math problems on the white board, if desired.

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  • Include rewards for the both of you, when the going gets tough, or everyone is unmotivated to do math.  Don’t forget that you are putting in time and effort also, and should be part of the reward!  For example, we love going out for frozen yogurt.  A couple of times a week, I post a review problem (review is so important) on the white board before the day’s lesson.  I then challenge whoever I am working with to do the problem independently.  Our reward system works like this:  If she can work the problem out correctly on her own, then she gets 2 points.  If I need to give some hints, or help her work it out, then she gets 1 point.  When the points get up to 12, then we share an outing, such as frozen yogurt. 

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  • Use Kahn, YouTube, or whatever wonderful internet resource you can find out there. Visit the following tutoring site for free help from the early grades through the high school years and beyond:

https://www.khanacademy.org/math

         Many times if we are stuck on a problem, I simple shoot a question to google.
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  • Upper math assistance- Set time aside to watch the instructional videos with your child, if the videos come with your curriculum. I highly recommend Chalkdust Math Company. I love Dana Mosely’s (aka Uncle Buck) lectures.  I actually find it rather relaxing to sit back and take a course with my kids, as I am usually so much on-the-go.  My kids are spaced 3 years apart, so I am able to stagger the upper math courses so that I am only dealing with one upper level math course per semester.  If your children are close in age, maybe they can double-up and take a course together.  If you are blessed with a large family, and simply can not make this work, maybe you can match up siblings that have compatible temperaments, and let the older child tutor the younger child.  Instead of paying them, perhaps you can lessen their chore load.  (My kids love negotiating for less chores!)
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I can not say enough about Chalkdust math!
  • Any level  math- Race to see who can solve a problem first and then compare answers. You may be surprised that you are not always the winner!

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Any other fun ideas?  I would love to hear them.

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** Note to the Reader- Today’s narrative is an excerpt of our family’s school journey from a few years ago, during my eldest daughter’s senior year in high school, a rather emotional year, with its many ups and downs.

May God shower blessings on your family as he has on mine.    Annette

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