Mathematics as a Family Activity

Mathematics doesn’t belong exclusively in the maths classroom. Parents can, and should, integrate it in a number of enjoyable family activities. In most cases, when they are enjoying themselves, children will not even be aware that they are developing their mathematical skills as they play. Do parents require special skills or need to take some course to encourage their children to develop basic mathematical skills early? Fortunately not. In fact, you don’t even need to be “good at Mathematics” to have fun with your kids. And that is the key: fun. Children need to learn that addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division (and later calculus and trigonometry) are not just useless, intimidating procedures weighing down their homework. The best way for children to learn this, is to learn it without directly associating the learning with formal Mathematics.

As part of this blog, I will share some of the mathematics-oriented family activities that I enjoy, and which don’t require special training. Some of these ideas will be so obvious and “everyday” that you will wonder why you haven’t been “playing” all along. Join me as we explore these ideas and develop them into games for the whole family.


Expecting too much of the teacher?

By the time a young person enters a high school science class, they should be brimming over with curiosity and a desire to learn. Does that describe the average student? No. Most drag themselves to class, disinterested and intimidated by the material they encounter. The teacher is left with immense task of not only communicating the facts, but also trying to stir up some curiosity and instill and develop some basic skills (such as observation of the environment). Is this really the responsibility of the teacher, or are we expecting them to do the very things that should be part of family life?

I believe that education begins at home. I also believe that it should begin early. Developing the natural curiosity of a child is part of the role of the parent. Unfortunately, many parents sit their little ones down in front of the TV, pop in an “educational” dvd, and hope the edutainment on the screen will do their work for them.