My students are so busy that time-consuming math projects are a luxury. How is it possible for older kids to play with mathematics?
Too often, the modern American school math curriculum is a relentless treadmill driving students toward calculus. (Does this happen in other countries, too?)
But that’s definitely not the only way to learn. For most students, it’s not the best way, either.
Here are a few ideas to get your older children playing with math…
Continue reading FAQ: Playful Math for Older Students
My daughter is only eleven, but I’m afraid I’ve ruined her chance of getting into college because she is so far behind in math. We’ve tried tutors, but she still has trouble, and standardized testing puts her three years below grade level. She was a late reader, too, so maybe school just isn’t her thing. What else can I do?
Standardized tests are not placement tests. They cannot tell you at what level your daughter should be studying. They aren’t designed that way. The “placement” they give is vague and general, not indicative of her grade level but rather a way of comparing her performance on that particular test with the performance of other students.
There can be many different reasons for a low score. I’ve listed a few of them in my post In Honor of the Standardized Testing Season.
Continue reading FAQ: I’ve Ruined My Daughter
The full quote, as it appears in my new book:
When we give students a rule, we give them permission not to think. All they need to do is remember our instructions.
But it is only by thinking — by struggling their way through mental difficulties — that our students can build a foundation of mathematical knowledge strong enough to support future learning.
Prealgebra & Geometry: Math Games for Middle School
Excerpted from my upcoming book, Prealgebra & Geometry: Math Games for Middle School, scheduled for publication in early 2021. Sign up for my newsletter to get updates.
CREDIT: “Thinking” photo by Sean Kong on Unsplash.
For children, learning always begins with play. This is how they wrap their minds around new ideas and make them their own.
“There should be no element of slavery in learning. Enforced exercise does no harm to the body, but enforced learning will not stay in the mind. So avoid compulsion, and let your children’s lessons take the form of play.”
—Plato, The Republic
If we want our children to enjoy learning math, our first job is to establish an attitude of playfulness.
This is especially important for anyone working with a discouraged child or a child who is afraid of math. The best way to help a discouraged child is to put away the workbook. Try something different, fun, and challenging.
Continue reading Homeschooling Tip #1: Start with Play
Far too many people find themselves suddenly, unexpectedly homeschooling their children. This prompts me to consider what advice I might offer after more than three decades of teaching kids at home.
Through my decades of homeschooling five kids, we lived by two rules:
Do math. Do reading.
As long as we hit those two topics each day, I knew the kids would be fine. Do some sort of mathematical game or activity. Read something from that big stack of books we collected at the library.
Conquer the basics of math and reading, then everything else will fall into place.
Continue reading How to Homeschool Math
The question came up again:
“What is the best curriculum for my children? They are four and six years old, and I’m afraid of letting them fall behind.”
I remember being a young parent, eager to start homeschooling. I used to get mad (without letting it show, like a true introvert) when people told me, “They are young. Just let them play.”
Now I see the wisdom in it.
The most important thing for your children right now, by far, is for them to enjoy learning. The joy of learning is a child’s natural state. As a parent, your primary job is to keep yourself from stomping it out.
But our parental fears can push us into joy-trampling before we realize it.
And our own experience of school makes it hard for us to see how much of our children’s play really is learning. We expect education to look like schoolwork, but natural learning looks nothing like that.
Continue reading Math with Young Children
One of the most common questions I get from parents who want to help their children enjoy math is, “Where do we start?”
My favorite answer: “Play games!”
And as the world slowly recovers from the pandemic crisis, it’s even more important for families to play together. So my publisher agreed to make my ebook Let’s Play Math Sampler: 10 Family-Favorite Games for Learning Math Through Play free for the duration.
Continue reading Play Math with Your Kids for Free
Halfway down the stairs
Is a stair
Where I sit.
There isn’t any
I’m not at the bottom,
I’m not at the top;
So this is the stair
Continue reading Playing Math with A.A. Milne
What Is Your Child’s Experience of Math?
If your children made an acrostic for the word “Mathematics,” what would they include?
Would they think of adjectives like artistic, mysterious, or sublime?
Or would they focus on words like answers, maddening, and stress?
I love taking a playful approach to mathematics. Puzzles, games and art projects lay down a foundation of wonder and enjoyment. This creates a strong, positive base to support our kids through the inevitable difficulties of learning an abstract subject like math.
There are many rich math resources these days! So different from back when I started homeschooling. If you need ideas to help you transform your child’s experience of math, check out my Free Math on the Internet pages.
Internet Math Resources
In fact, I have a huge folder of even more bookmarks and links that I hope to add to my resource pages, whenever I find the time…
Does your family have a favorite way to play with math?
CREDITS: Water background photo by Ishan via Unsplash.
KenKen arithmetic puzzles build mental math skills, logical reasoning, persistence, and mathematical confidence.
Free via email every Friday during the school year.
What a great way to prepare your children for success in math!
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Click Here for KenKen Classroom Newsletter
How to Play
For easy printing, right-click to open the image above in a new tab.
Place the numbers from 1 to 6 into each row and column. None of the numbers may repeat in any row or column. Within the black “cages,” the numbers must add, subtract, multiply, or divide to give the answer shown.