How do I make homeschool maths fun?
You know the phrase, “You are what you eat?” As it applies to maths, we’d like to think that creating good habits early; creates great maths students later. By inserting daily doses of maths, you provide a nourishing environment ripe for mathematic excellence. Making a concerted effort to create a culture within your home that embraces maths is a great way to develop positive attitudes around the subject. Imagine the possibilities if we put the same emphasis on maths as we do literacy!
Here are seven tips to generate and increase that positive maths culture in your classroom. These tips work for at-home and school-based learning:
Tip 1: Words have power. Stop saying “maths is hard”
Words have a strong power, especially with young kids! Saying “maths is hard” automatically creates a negative connotation surrounding the subject. Those three words can have a deep impact on a student’s approach to maths in your home and ultimately in the classroom. Simply put, if your child thinks that maths is hard, it will be!
Create a positive dialogue surrounding maths in your home! Replace “maths is hard” with “maths is fun” and replace “I can’t” with “I will!”
Instead use the power of suggestion to create positive dialogue surrounding maths in your home. Replace “maths is hard” with “maths is fun” and “I can’t” with “I will!” Then add keywords like hard work, preparation and self-confidence to your students maths terminology.
Tip 2: Incorporate maths-themed reading books
Like most homeschoolers, your bookcase is likely filled with popular books of rhyme, mystery and adventure. Those books will prove to be instrumental in strengthening the literacy within your home. Adding maths-Themed titles to your shelves can do the same thing.
There are great books available at your local bookstore and library that are filled with wonder and whimsy with an underlying theme centered around mathematics. Making these books a part of your reading collection will serve the dual purpose of increasing reading and maths competencies for your student. The same way you discuss the moral of a story after your child has finished reading a book; have them discuss maths concepts as well. Being able to have a conversation about maths at an early age will help to ensure that your child has a positive outlook on the subject later.
Tip 3: Use coloured pens and markers
Who says maths should only be written in pencil or black ink? Get creative by making maths visually pleasing. If solving word problems with a purple pen helps the numbers jump off of the page for your student, by all means, go for it! Consider laying a piece of fabric on the floor and allowing your child to solve maths problems using finger paint. Getting rid of some of the rigid views surrounding maths can be as simple as adding a pop of color to an otherwise black and white subject.
Tip 4: Use number stamps
In addition to using colour, consider using number stamps. Making maths exciting can help keep your child engaged in learning for longer periods of time. Number stamps are a great way to add another layer of fun to a maths lesson. You can purchase a setup of 0-9 number stamps along with an ink pad from most local craft stores.
Tip 5: Don't discourage doodles and drawings
Perhaps your student has drawn butterflies, hearts, footballs or cars in-between the answers to a few maths questions. Or maybe their 0s have eyes and a smile. Don’t discourage them from doodling. As long as they are staying on task and completing the assignment, what does a doodle here or there hurt? It could be their way of focusing or taking a mental break in between questions. Either way, as long as somewhere between the emoji and the race car track, there’s an answer for questions 1-10, you student is learning. Embrace doodling!
Make maths a part of your child's daily conversations. Each day presents an opportunity to discuss various maths concepts in fun ways that won’t bore your child or make them feel as though they are being drilled.
Tip 6: Act as your child’s scribe
For Language Arts and Science, letting your child orally dictate answers to you as you jot them down on the activity sheets is recommended. This works extraordinarily well for maths, too. Scribing can allow your child to think through the maths concept while you write.
This trick even works for multi-step calculations where the student needs to show work. Allowing your child to dictate empowers him or her to explain each step, increases understanding, heightens the ability to recall maths facts, and sharpens mental maths skills.
Tip 7: Talk about maths in the household
Support your child's mathematical development by making the subject a part of your daily communication. Each day presents an opportunity to discuss various maths concepts in fun ways that won’t bore your child or make them feel as though they are being drilled.
Here are a few simple ways to incorporate maths concepts in real-world circumstances: Have your child read aloud the numbers on buildings and street signs as you drive. Have them read the prices when you place items into your grocery cart. Tell them your budget before going to the store and have them guess if you are over or under budget during check out. As children get older, help them identify maths concepts in sports and video games.
If you want some more fun maths ideas and engaging activities that you can do outside the classroom, here's a free ebook that contains 100 Maths Activities:
Enjoy having fun with maths!
The Team at Maths Australia