Top 10 Ways to Help Your Kids Do Well in Math

Mastering Math
Mastering mathematics is absolutely essential for future opportunities in school and careers. Your children will need to reach a certain level of competency in math to take many advanced high-school courses, to be admitted to college, and to have a wide variety of career choices. Here's how you can help them maximize their math-smarts.

1. Make sure your children understand mathematical concepts.
Otherwise, math becomes a meaningless mental exercise of just memorizing rules and doing rote drills. Have your children manipulate objects to figure out basic concepts. For addition, they could add one, two, or more blocks to a pile of blocks and then tell you how many blocks are in the pile.

2. Help them master the basic facts.
Mastery of a basic fact means that children can give an answer in less than three seconds. Considerable drill is required for children to give quick responses. Use flash cards to help your children learn the basic facts. When they don't know an answer, have them lay out objects to solve the problem.

3. Teach them to write their numbers neatly.
Twenty-five percent of all errors in solving math problems can be traced back to sloppy number writing. Improve your children's number-writing skills by having them trace over numbers that you have written. Suggest they use graph paper to keep the numbers in problems neatly aligned.

4. Provide help immediately when your children need it.
Math is one subject in which everything builds upon what has been previously learned. For example, a failure to understand the concept of percent leads to problems with decimals. If a teacher is unable to help your children, provide the help yourself or use a tutor or learning center.

5. Show them how to handle their math homework.
Doing math homework reinforces the skills your children are learning in class. Teach them to begin every assignment by studying the textbook or worksheet examples. Then have them redo the examples before beginning the assignment to make sure they understand the lesson.

6. Encourage your children to do more than the assigned

Considerable practice is necessary for your children to hone their math skills. If the teacher only assigns the even problems, having them do some of the odd ones will strengthen their skills. The more time your children spend practicing their skills, the sooner they will develop confidence in their abilities.

7. Explain how to solve word problems.
Mathematicians have an expression: To learn to solve problems, you must solve problems. Teach your children to read a word problem several times. Also, have them draw a picture or diagram to describe it. Make it easier for them to understand the steps in a problem by teaching them to substitute smaller numbers for larger ones.

8. Help your children learn the vocabulary of mathematics.
They will never get a real feeling for math nor learn more advanced concepts without an understanding of its vocabulary. Check that your children can define new terms. If not, have them use models and simple problems to show you they understand how the term is used.

9.Teach them how to do math "in their head."
One of the major ways to solve problems is by using mental math. Kids should use this method frequently instead of using pencil and paper or a calculator. When helping your children with a problem, help them determine when it would be appropriate to use mental math.

10. Make mathematics part of your children's daily life.
Mathematics will become more meaningful when your kids see how important it is in so many real-life situations. Encourage them to use math in practical ways. For example, ask them to space new plants a certain distance apart, double a recipe, and pay bills in stores.

Family Math Games

All you need is a deck of cards and dice.

Concentration (add, sub, multiplication, division)
The object of the game is to find pairs of matching cards among an array of face down cards. Help your child write addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division facts on one set of index cards, and the answers on another set. Shuffle the cards and lay them out face down. The first player turns over two cards. If they match, the player keeps the two cards and takes another turn. The next player continues by trying to find two matching cards. When all cards have been collected, the player with the most pairs wins.

Dice Games (addition)
You will need 2, 3, or 4 dice and one score sheet. Tally to so many rolls or to a preset score such as 50 or 100 points.
Vary it by adding the sums of the dice together, and the greatest or least score wins!
Vary it again by rolling 3 colored dice and 1 white die. Subtract the number on the white die from the sum of the colored dice, and the greatest sum wins.

Go Fish
Prepare flash cards from 0-10 (3 sets of each number). Play "Go Fish" to add numbers up to 10. (Ex: Sally has the number 4, so she asks her mother for the number 6 because 4+6=10.)

Card Games (addition) (multiplication)
War: Divide the deck of cards evenly. Each player will put out two cards and add or multiply them together. Whoever has the highest total will take all cards. The object is to take the whole deck.

Pig (addition)
Players take turns rolling two dice. A player may roll the dice as many times as he/she wants, mentally keeping a total of the sums that come up. When the player stops rolling, he/she records the total, and adds it to the scores from previous rounds. BUT if a one is rolled, the player scores a 0 for that round, and it's the next player's turn.

Race for $1.00 (money addition)
You need 30 pennies, 10 nickels, 20 dimes, 1 quarter, a dollar, 2 dice, and a partner.
Take turns. On your turn, roll the dice. The sum tells how many pennies to take. When you have 5 pennies, trade for a nickel. When you have 2 nickels, trade for a dime. When you have 2 dimes and one nickel, trade for a quarter. The first player to reach $1.00 is the winner.

Guess My Number (number logic)
You need: paper, pencil, partner
Player one picks a number from 0-99 and writes it down. Player two makes a guess and writes it down. Player one gives a clue: "Your guess is greater than my number" or "Your guess is less than my number". Continue playing until player two guesses player one's number. Switch jobs and play again.

The 1 to 10 Gam
e (addition)
You need: 2 dice, 1 deck of cards, and a partner
Use only the ace, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 cards.
One of you takes the red cards, one of you takes the black cards. Take turns. On your turn, roll the dice and figure out the sum. Remove enough cards from your hand to add up to that sum. For example, if you roll a 5 and a 3, you can make 8 in many ways (5+3, 4+4, 4+2+2, 8, etc...). If you can't make the sum with the cards in your hand, roll again. If you can't make a sum after three rolls, you lose the game. You win if your partner can't make a number in three rolls or if you use up all of your cards.

Number Family Rumm
y (fact families)
Use a deck of 40 cards: Four suits of ace through ten. The goal is to make families of three cards that are related by addition or subtraction. For example: 5, 5, and 10 are a family because 5+5=10, and 10-5=5. 6, 3, and 9 are a family because 6+3=9, 9-6=3, and 9-3=6.
Shuffle the deck and deal 6 cards to each player. Place the remaining cards face down in a pile. If you have any families of cards, place them aside. If you don't have any families, you may draw one from the pile and discard one of your own. You may also discard the one that you picked up, if you don't want it. The first player to get rid of all 6 cards (2 fact families) is the winner. Remember that the ace equals one.

Grab Bag Subtraction
Choose a number of things to work with, and put that many objects into a bag. You can use crayons, coins, beans, buttons, etc...) Grab a handful of the items and count them. Use subtraction to figure out how many items are now left in the bag. So if you put 100 items in the bag and pulled out 20, then you would write 100-20=80. Let your partner have a turn, and whoever leaves the least amount in the bag is the winner.

Lineup (number order, multiples)
Prepare number cards from 0-50. If more than two players are going to play, you might want to prepare two decks. Shuffle the cards and deal 8 to each player. Players place their cards face up in a horizontal line in front of them in the same order in which they are received. Players may not move their cards around. The object of the game is to be first to have your cards in the right sequential order from smallest to largest. A player does this by taking a card on each turn from the top of the undelt deck, and using it to replace any of the cards in his lineup. He discards the card that is replaced. Whenever a player's lineup of numbers is in the correct order from smallest to largest, he calls out LINEUP and wins the game.

You can vary this game by using multiples of numbers. You still have 8 cards, but are trying to get multiples in order from smallest to largest. So you can do multiples of 2 (2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16) or multiples of 3 (3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 21, 24). You can even have numbers such as 12, 16, 20, 24, 28, 32, 36, 40. Those are multiples of 4, but they don't necessarily have to start with the number 4. They are however, still in order from smallest to largest.

Card Capture (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division)
Use a set of fact flashcards. Divide the cards equally between the two players. One player attacks, while the other player defends. The defending player shows his cards (problem side up) one at a time to the attacking player. If the attacking player says the right answer, he captures the card and adds it to his own. He can continue capturing cards until he answers incorrectly. When this happens, the defending player becomes the attacker, and gets his chance at capturing the cards. This continues with cards being captured back and forth until one player winds up with all of the cards, or has the most cards when time is called. You can even set the rules to the first player to capture 20 cards, or any number you'd like.

Addition and Subtraction Turnover (addition and subtraction)
Each player is given 11 cards numbered 0-10. These are placed face up in a row. Players roll two dice on a turn and may choose to add or subtract the two numbers shown on the dice. If the resulting sum or difference equals one of the number cards still face up, the player can turn that card face down. Next player then takes a turn. This continues until one of the players wins by turning all 11 of his cards face down.

Subtraction Pig (subtraction)

Two or more players start out with 100 points each. Players in turn roll two dice and subtract that number from their points. A player on a turn continues rolling the dice and subtracting the resulting number from his remaining points until a 1 appears on any dice rolled. That player's turn ends, and the next player takes a turn. When a player has lost all of his points, he is out of the game. The last player in the game, is the winner.


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