I found that when Panda was at school his teachers were always telling us that he struggled with maths, that he would blurt out any number without thinking about the question. When he first came out of school we tried worksheets and the very useful site Khan Academy only to find that he would get cross and if he got an answer wrong he would get really upset and we could go no further.
I couldn’t stand to see Panda upset like that. Part of our reason for home educating was to make him happier, not to upset him over a maths question. So we decided the best thing to do would be to leave the worksheets behind and learn our maths through living.
So many games got him adding scores together such as Scrabble and Uno. Dominoes 5’s and 3’s brought in some times tables. Shopping is a great way to add and subtract and get used to handling money. We made a game of weighing things and deciding how much more we needed during baking. We worked out averages when playing a racing game on the wii. Every race we figured out how many places they had moved up. After each race we figure out the average number of places they had moved.
We talked fractions during ‘The Voice’. It was the knockout rounds and out of a team of 9 only 3 got to stay. Panda figured out that was 1/3. We talk percentages when working out how much commission I make when selling books or when we are shopping and there is a sale on.
We covered angles when he wanted to make a woodwork box with his dad. He used a protractor when he wanted to make a decoder using paper plates.
Now Panda regularly amazes me with his mental maths. Sure he still makes mistakes but it doesn’t make him panic any more. Tiger is getting on really well with his maths too. He loves to play with numbers and is very good at spotting patterns.
They both really love an app called ‘dragon box’ too which is all about algebra. We joined IXL maths which is an online learning platform for all ages. The boys only do it now and again but if they enjoy it it will help.
The point I’m trying to make is that maths is all around us. Yes it’s important to teach them maths but that doesn’t mean to say it has to be boring. Make it real, make it useful and keep it fun.