Math is actually fun, in the real world!

My weak spot in school (and, as a continuation, outside of school), is math. My mind just does not seem to understand numbers. I can memorise them – and still, after 20 years can recite a lot of the formulas that were drummed into me as a student – but when it comes to application, I do struggle. I remember math classes being either super boring, because they were a solid hour of sitting at a desk and staring at a textbook, listening to the monotonous monologue of the teacher. Or completely frightful, thanks to one certain math teacher who was infamous at our high school, with a reputation for making people cry with his toe-the-line-or-else approach to teaching. Needless to say, there was nothing that seemed to be fun or encouraging about working with numbers. And it didn’t help that most of the adults in my life could be heard saying things like “Pythagoras’ Theorem; never used it. Don’t know why we were even taught it.” Or “I spent all my time at school trying to figure out what ‘X’ was. And for what? It would have served me better learning how to manage money and keep myself out of debt”.

So I try very hard to keep all of this in mind with Miss 5, when we do number work. I’m not particularly concerned about my skills in relation to teaching her – yet. After all, she is just 5, and as long as my skills surpass hers, we’ll do fine. If we are still homeschooling when her skills surpass mine, then we will obviously get a tutor 🙂 In the meantime, I want to show her that math can be fun. The more fun I can make it for her, the more she will be inclined to stick with it, when it becomes a challenge. And this week has been a lot of fun!

I taught Miss 5 and Miss 2.5 how to play Uno a few weeks back. We now have regular Uno tournaments. Miss 2.5 particularly enjoys playing. Miss 5 loves the game, but has been taught some lessons in sportsmanship along the way 😉 A funny thing that has also happened, is playing this game from Husbands childhood, as well as my own, has inspired Husband and I to have our own, rather more competitive, after hours tournaments. Uno has become another way for us all to bond, as well as a great learning opportunity for the girls. Miss 2.5 gets practice in number recognition, matching numbers and of course colours. Miss 5 gets the same practice but on a higher level, more appropriate to her age, where she is learning number values (9 is bigger than 5, so worth more points), as well as basic addition in the scoring of the game.

Shopping is another great way for Miss 5 to learn about numbers. She learns through reading the prices (and finding the cheapest one 😉 ), as well as paying for the groceries at the checkout. Our local IGA has child sized trolleys, which is just the bees knees for Miss 5 and Miss 2.5! They walk around the store putting this and that into their trolley, and it makes them feel super special and “grown up” 🙂

Another thing that we’ve been doing for “real life” maths, is fundraising for charity. I’m not going to go into too much detail in this post, because I’d like to do another blog regarding that. But Miss 5 has been learning about money, it’s value and how to count it.

Which brings me to yesterday’s activity. The girls made a snakes and ladders board game. I jumped onto the laptop and printed out an Excel table numbered 1-50, then I printed out a few snake clip art pictures as well as a few ladder clip art pictures. The girls coloured them in, cut out the snakes and ladders (with my help, as they were a little bit fiddly, and they wanted them to be perfect to put on the board), and pasted them on to the board. I covered it in contact to keep it clean. We then found a couple of little pieces to use as markers and we pinched a dice out of mums Trivial Pursuit game 🙂 The girls played 5 games in a row. They did number recognition, counted out aloud when they moved their markers, we talked about greater than and less than and probability and they spent the whole time giggling!

Husband and I were talking about our home schooling lifestyle only last night. He made the comment that “all we need to do is pay attention to how they learn, not how we want them to learn. If we do that, and we keep it fun and interesting, they’ll do the rest”, and in that I believe he is totally right. He’s a bit of a clever clogs sometimes 😉

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