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What do you think about when you think about math? Most will agree that we need to use math in our daily lives, so we need to have a basic knowledge of mathematical concepts. Here are five features that will make helping your child with math a fun learning experience for both of you.

1. Real-life applications
• Focus on how math skills are used every day.
• When estimation and multiplication are taught, a real-life example can be that we usually estimate when we are buying multiple items and we want to ensure that we have enough money. For example, if I want to buy 5 notebooks that are $2.80 each, I can round the cost of the each notebook up to $3.00. Then, I can multiply 3 times 5 to find an estimate of the amount of money that I will need.

2. Hands-on manipulatives
• Hands-on objects can be used to make mathematical concepts more meaningful and more fun for children.
• These objects can be everyday objects that can be found around your house, such as marbles, beans, toy cars, and pieces of cereal.
• When teaching subtraction, you can use pieces of cereal to demonstrate how subtraction works. Your child can either take away pieces of cereal or eat the pieces of cereal to show the difference between the two numbers.

3. Talking about how problems are solved
• Math is about understanding how we solve problems. If your child can say or write their steps in solving math problems, he or she will have a better understanding of the math concept(s) that underlie the problem.
• For example, if I am trying to solve 5 + 3, one way that I can solve it is by counting up. To explain how I used counting up, I may say, “First, I looked at the two numbers (addends). I saw that 5 was greater than one, so I thought about 5 and added up 3 more with my fingers. I thought 6, 7, and 8. Eight is the answer.

4. Games
• You can practice math skills with your child by playing math games.
• To practice addition, you can roll two dice. Then, you can write an addition sentence, use objects to model the addition sentence, and solve the problem. Next, your child can follow the same steps. The person with the highest sum wins a point. The player with the highest number of points wins the game. This game can be found in my free e-book Games for Operations.

5. Children’s literature
• Reading a children’s book can ignite your child’s interest in mathematical concepts.
• A book such as How Much is a Million is a good resource for helping to teach your child how large numbers such as a million and a billion are.

In future posts, I will include specific suggestions and examples of instructional strategies I have used in my classroom to make learning math fun!