Mathematics can seem irrelevant to many students and parents alike but we would like to share five simple ways that math can be relevant in the home setting that's not only beneficial but fun.
Cooking & Baking
Making food is a process that is full of math! It's also very easy to find math tasks of different levels of difficulty for a wide variety of ages. The youngest children can practice their counting skills as you measure out cupfuls or spoonfuls of flour or herbs. Those a few years older can practice division as they evenly split carrot sticks or apple slices among the different members of the family. Children with more advanced skills can practice fraction operations by doubling or tripling recipes, or even calculate how much more pizza there is with a square pizza compared to a circular pizza with the same diameter.
Purchasing groceries and other supplies is also an excellent way to practice math skills. Have your child or children estimate the cost of an item or even the entire grocery bill. (How close was their answer to the actual amount?) From counting how many items are in the cart, to basic arithmetic when purchasing more than one of a single item, to deciding which brand is the better buy, there's math for all ages involved in any shopping trip.
Everyone lives by schedules, and engaging children in following them will help everything go smoother. Younger children can practice telling time ("when the minute hand gets to the 6 then it is time for me to get ready for bed") while older ones can keep track of the calendar ("we'll visit Grandma in three weeks") or develop time management ("I need to finish this report by Friday and each page takes me an hour").
Any kind of home improvement project is a perfect opportunity to apply math to real life. How many feet of wallpaper border is needed to go around the room (and how many rolls must be purchased to have that amount)? They'll need perimeter for that. How much paint is needed to paint the walls (and how many cans must be purchased to have that amount)? That's a practical use of area. Just about every task will require some sort of measurement and multiplication or division.
There is no better way to practice percents and rates than to compare savings accounts and loan interest rates. Older children can calculate the cost of paying the full balance of a credit card every month versus paying it in installments, and the lessons learned from their calculations will be fixed in their minds far better than if they were simply told the results.
There are many more applications of mathematics to everyday life, such as gardening, sewing, and caring for animals. Be on the lookout for ways to teach your children math in everything you do!
Written by Destiny Woods
Current Teacher of Mathematics
Droolees LLC Education Blog Contributor
Meet Destiny Woods - Destiny currently teaches at an elementary school in Washington State. She teaches pre-algebra and does some small group work with students in the third and fourth grade. She also acts as a private math tutor for students between second and eighth grades.