The kids who are successful in school are those who remain curious even after the last bell rings, who notice the world around them, and who make connections between subjects and ideas. There are millions of ways to keep minds of all ages active and engaged outside the classroom.
The following article is part of a Noodle series about how to integrate learning into everyday life in order to instill a love of knowledge in your kids.
The Math Edition
Math is anxiety-provoking for a lot of kids, but you can help boost their confidence and reinforce key skills by integrating math into everyday life at home! Read on for suggestions that will engage and inspire mathematicians of all ages.
Give kids a budget, and have them practice counting, estimating, and finding differences to make sure they don’t overspend. Your younger kids can choose a snack under three dollars, for example. Really young kids can practice counting your spare change. Older kids may be able to plan a party or go clothing shopping within a budget. Make sure they account for sales tax!
Keep a small hand-held puzzle in your car and an ongoing picture puzzle in the living room. Puzzles teach spatial reasoning and problem-solving strategies for kids of all ages.
You can have younger kids learn to identify the time on an analog clock, and see how long it takes to finish an activity. Older kids can practice gauging how long a task will take, and how much time they have left over. For example, can I play video games for another 20 minutes and still have enough time to shower before bed? Or, if grandma’s house is about 10 miles away, and we’re driving at 20 miles per hour, how long will it take us to get there? What about if we drove at 30 miles per hour?
Making food is a wonderful task for teens who are motivated to learn greater independence. Give them a budget, and allow them to choose recipes, shop for ingredients, measure, and time their cooking to make dinner for everybody! Younger kids will need supervision, but can still participate in measuring out ingredients (hello, fractions!) and timing the cookies in the oven.
You can teach kids to sew, knit, or build simple projects. As they do these crafts, kids will practice measuring and calculating how much of a material they need. You can challenge your kids to make a sculpture that fits exactly in a nook on your shelf, or see if they can make a to-scale still-life of your fruit bowl. Kids will increase planning and organizing skills, as well.
There are innumerable math games for iPhones and iPads. For example, Dragon Box teaches algebraic thinking without actually using numbers — your kids won’t even know they’re learning! Mathly Hollows is another favorite. In this game, kids must protect a wizard from attacking monsters by performing mathematical operations.
Want more ideas on how to cultivate a love of learning in your child? Check out other parts of this series: