The following blog was contributed by NWEA of Portland, Oregon. NWEA is a research-based, not-for-profit organization that supports students and educators worldwide by creating assessment solutions that precisely measure growth and proficiency—and provide insights to help tailor instruction.
As this uncertain school year continues—and as research shows math is proving especially challenging for many students—there are many ways to support families with at-home learning. For starters, they can encourage their kids to see how math is all around us. Children can count similar items as they help put away groceries, measure ingredients for a recipe or calculate the number of days remaining until a special event or holiday.
Building strong skills now can help kids meet grade-level standards in the short term and tackle advanced math in the future. Here are just a few tips to pass along to your families and support their efforts.
- Count orally by twos, fives or tens.
- Complete connect-the-dot pictures.
- Count and pair objects around your home and determine whether there’s an odd or even number of items.
- Ask your child to solve verbal math problems. “Take the number five. Add six. Multiply by three. Subtract three. Divide by five. What’s your answer?” Speak slowly at first until your child gets better at solving these mental problems.
- Help your child identify percentages in signs, on websites and in books and magazines.
- Encourage your child to read nutrition labels. Have them calculate the percent of a specific nutrient in each item.
- Fold a sheet of paper in half and have your child draw a shape along the fold. Cut out the shape and unfold the paper to create a symmetrical shape.
- Search your home or neighborhood for different geometric shapes, such as triangles, squares, circles and rectangles.
- Use common household items, such as toothpicks, empty toilet paper rolls, twist ties, sticks and paper, to construct shapes.
- Help your child recognize and identify real-world examples of right angles (e.g., the corner of a book) and parallel lines (e.g., railroad tracks).
- Teach your child how to set the kitchen timer when you’re cooking.
- Arrange various objects (e.g., books, boxes, and cans) by various size and measurement (e.g., length, weight and volume) attributes. Talk with your child about how they are arranged using comparison words like “taller,” “shorter,” “narrower,” “wider,” “heaviest,” “lightest,” “more,” “less,” “about” and “same.”
- Use a standard measuring tool to measure objects in your home.
- Gather a tape measure, yardstick, ruler, cup, gallon container and scale. Discuss the various things you can measure with each.
- Encourage your child to incorporate terms such as “whole,” “halves,” “thirds” and “fourths” into everyday life. Mealtimes are a great time to practice this. Encourage them to eat half their broccoli if they want dessert!
Statistics, probability, and graphing
- Open a pack of Skittles or M&M’s and make a bar graph showing the number of each color found inside the pack.
- Look through a science textbook or website and find three examples of different types of graphs.
- Find the coordinates of places on a map, like your home or town.
- Watch the weather report for a week, write down the temperatures for each day and then graph the temperatures.
- Have your child make a list of things that could never happen, things that might happen and things that are sure to happen.
- Encourage your child to figure out answers to real-life situations: “We have one can of tuna and we need five. How many more do we need to buy?”
- Ask questions that involve equal sharing. For example, “Seven children share 49 baseball cards. How many cards does each child get?”
- Help your child look up the population and land area of the state and city in which you live and compare these facts with those of other states and cities.
- Visit the website for the U.S. Census Bureau and have your child write down three interesting pieces of information they learned.
- Encourage your child to count and recognize patterns and color in the environment by discussing what they see, like the color of their math textbook, the number on the house across the street and the number of swings on the playground.
- Have your child look for patterns on buildings, rugs, floors and clothing
For more ideas on how to support families during COVID-19, visit the NWEA blog, Teach. Learn. Grow.