Building Math Skills
Tips for Parents
Engage in estimations with your child. Ask, "How far do you thinkit is from here to the corner? The mall? School?" "How tall do youthink that tree is?" When you go shopping, say, "I can only spend $25,so you try to estimate when we are close to the limit." When traveling bycar, see who can make the closest estimate of 1 mile, then 5 miles; use theodometer to check.
Make up story problems around math facts such as 12+12-6x1/2. For example,12 elephants were joined by 12 zebras, but 3 elephants and 3 zebras decided togo off on their own to take a nap. How many were then left? But because therewasn't enough grass to eat, half of them went to another part of the savanna.Now how many were left? It doesn't matter how silly the stories become.
Many games will reveal your child's knowledge of numbers as well as ofwords and directions. Play tic-tac-toe, dots, checkers, concentration, hangman,Scrabble, and increasingly complex card games such as hearts, rummy, cribbage.Keep playing games such as chess and Monopoly, which involve problem solving andmathematics.
Use a mileage chart as a prop, ask, "Is it farther from Seattle toWashington, DC, or from New York to San Francisco?"
With a map of the United States, ask, "What is the shortest route fromBoston to Grand Forks, North Dakota?" Or have your child trace routes tothe homes of relatives and friends around the country -- or the world.
While cooking or baking, ask your child to read the recipe and measure whatquantities are needed. This is a good way to see your child put math to use, andboth of you enjoy the companionship.
Fractions are an increasing part of the math curriculum in the fourthgrade. Ask your child to explain, with examples, with examples, such fractionsas 3/8, 5/12, and 7/16. Make a graph of such measurements.
Ask your child to divide 60, 80, and 90 by 4, 5, and 6.
Work on number families together. For example, you could ask forcombinations that relate to the numbers 4, 5, and 9: 4+5=9, 9-5=4, 9-4=5. Yourchild might ask you to do 5, 6, and 11: 5+6=11, 11-6=5, 11-5=6.
With a stopwatch, see how quickly your child can run 50 yards. Together,record and graph the times over several months. There is an almost limitlessnumber of activities of this kind. You can also move into calculations such as,"How fast did you go per second in feet? In yards? Or, "If youcontinued to run at the same speed, how long would it take you to run 100 yards?Or 400 yards? How about 600 yards?" Such activities provide a useful linkbetween mathematical computations and physical experience.
Reprinted from 101 Educational Conversations with Your 4th Grader by Vito Perrone, published by Chelsea House Publishers.
Copyright 1994 by Chelsea House Publishers, a division of Main Line Book Co. All rights reserved.