How to incorporate Math in daily life of kids?
We use maths in our life everyday, consciously or unconsciously. Whether we follow a recipe, shop at supermarket or place a bet with friend over which basketball team is going to win; we are using math to take decisions. Yet, many people are scared of Math. Students find math tough and avoid it. Why are so many students lacking in mathematical skills?
Students can fall below the expected level of achievement because of various factors. Students say they do not understand Math or find it too abstract. After-all, how can someone blame them if they cannot visualise why we use negative numbers? Unless we make them realise the connection between mathematical concepts and real-life scenarios, kids are going to have a challenge “understanding Math”.
Here are a few ways you can incorporate math in everyday life of kids:
- Cooking/ Following a recipe: Encourage kids to get into the kitchen and cook. The experience of cooking with you can help build their self-confidence, help you in bonding with your child and lay the foundation for healthy eating habits. And an added advantage is they can practice their math skills. They can learn fractions, multiplication, division. If you are cooking for 10 people and the recipe says the ingredients will suffice for 4 guests; you know you have to multiply everything by 2.5 to get the perfect recipe. Let kids figure this out for you. If the recipe uses English system of measurement, let the kid convert from ounce to gram for you.
- Send kids grocery shopping: Send kids to buy groceries for you. Let them pick bread, butter, jam and cheese and figure out how much to pay. And how much to get back from the cashier. Ask them to check if buying a 200 gm butter makes more sense than buying a 500 gm one (sometimes a 500 gm thing costs more than 2.5 times that of a 200 gm).
- Let them check restaurant bills: When you are out for a meal, hand over the bill to kids and ask them to check if the billing is correct. He/She can check if the items have been billed properly and then if the addition is correct. Further, ask them to add 10% of the bill as tip to the waiter (or whatever percentage you are comfortable with). Now he/she is not only practising basic math skills, but also learning percentage.
- Involve kids in holiday planning: Holiday planning can be a great way to build up math skills. Right from currency conversion to looking for a hotel in your budget; everything is math!
- Sports: Almost all sports use math. Did you ever think Usain Bolt’s height (6’5’’) gives him unfair advantage over other competitors? Or people with short legs have better leg turnover? You can use ratio -proportions and study the effect. When watching cricket, take kids help in calculating the required run rate. Baseball uses a lot of math, and so does basketball. Basketball is a great way to introduce kids to angles, percentages, arcs, statistics and many other concepts. Let kids use probability to check the odds of their favourite team winning. Or if your kid is tennis enthusiast, it may be a good idea to predict if Federer is getting any more Australian Open titles.
- Pay your kids for home chores: Let kids help you in home chores and make some pocket money. Now I am not advocating they get paid for picking up their plates and keeping their shoe in the shoe rack. But they can help you with laundry, decorating the house for guests or do some quick errand. Let them negotiate on how much they should be paid. This not only will help them with life skills like negotiation and charge fair, but also help them in Math. Further, let them decide how they would want to spend that pocket money as long as they follow some rules.
- Use internet: You may be wondering if all Math concepts have some practical real life application. It may not be very obvious to you how Pythagoras theorem can be applied. Check on internet and you will find many websites with interesting applications of the theorem. Or for that matter any other complex mathematical concept.
Did you know that Math is the only language shared by all humans regardless of their origin, religion or culture? A Pi is 3.14159 whether you speak Chinese, English, Bengali or French!! Scholars use Math to explain the mysteries of the world and understand the complex patterns of the climate change.
Math us not just about solving quadratic equations and playing with imaginary numbers. Its about making our lives better, richer and making more informed (and calculated 🙂 ) decisions.