Do you remember memorizing your math facts in elementary school?
I clearly recall my second grade teacher walking us up one-by-one to the front of the room to recite addition and subtraction facts. With breath suspended and heart pounding my ears, I looked to the paper train hovering above the blackboard and followed her tapping yardstick until reaching the goal: finish the entire train without one mistake.
No pressure, right?
With our own kids starting down this road of mastering math facts, my husband and I have been trying to find ways to incorporate a little math into daily life. This doesn’t mean that flashcards and calculators have to make an appearance or that the mood must become tense and somber–there are other ways to get your kids thinking! Here are a few ways to weave math into your dinner convo tonight:
1. How old is grandma? One of our kids asked how old grandma would be on her upcoming birthday. Instead of just telling them, we offered her year of birth, provided pencil and paper, and asked them to figure it out.
2. What about the dog? We got a puppy seven months after we got married. If we got married in August of 1998, roughly how old is our dog now? [cue the paper and pencils] How old is he in dog-years? How old was the dog when you were 4?
3. Speaking of Marriage: If mom was born in 1975 and we got married in 1998, how old was mom when she walked down the aisle? [Repeat with dad].
4. When your brother is 10….? Our youngest son is in preschool and is not yet working to memorize math facts. However, this boy does not want to be left out! So we crafted a few simple questions for him like, “If your brother is 3 years older than you, how old will he be when you’re 6?” or in reverse, “When J is 10, how old will you be?”
We actually had fun and spent most of our dinner crafting problems and searching for solutions. Once we had discovered one grandma’s age, the kids prodded for information they could use to figure out the other grandparents’ ages. And with a little thinking we were able to incorporate our 5 year old effortlessly.
Next time you sit down for dinner, add a piece of paper and pencil to each place setting and flex your math muscles together; not only will it prepare your kids for the rigors of school, but it reinforces the idea that math really is an everyday skill.