Making the connection between your child's math lessons and his everyday life can completely change his attitude toward learning math. In addition to using an easy-to-understand curriculum like Monarch, Horizons, LIFEPAC, or Switched-On Schoolhouse from Alpha Omega Publications, try using these creative lessons to make math real for your child as you start a new year of homeschooling:
1. Count, Count, Count - Make math fun for little ones by counting whatever, whenever you can. Count the toys as you put them in the toy box, count the birds sitting on the electrical wires as you take a walk, count the blue cars as you drive to Grandma's house, count the pieces of candy in a bag, or count the pennies in a piggy bank. Mix it up by counting backward or counting by 2s, 5s, and 10s.
2. Make a Pizza - Teach young children to divide by using their favorite food. Let them determine how to cut a pizza into enough pieces, so every family member gets an equal amount. Recommended for children ages 9-12, The Math Chef hones math skills like percents and geometry as they cook and bake recipes.
3. Figure Out the Change - Too many adults have no idea how to count back change unless a cash register tells them the amount. Teach your child how to correctly count back change to the bill used to pay for the item. Play shopkeeper and practice using real money. Then, go to the store and have your child count back his own change for real.
4. Go Grocery Shopping - Pretend to go the store with AOP's Market Math or take a trip to a real one. Have your child find the best price and the best bargain. Give older children a budget and the shopping list and let them purchase food for your family's next meal. Hopefully, your teens can eventually take over and do all the grocery shopping!
5. Raise Livestock or Grow Produce - Homeschooled children can learn about budgets, profit margins, and other real-life math skills as they earn money from homegrown vegetables or farm animals raised to market.
6. Play Sports - Enjoy a round of golf, a game of tennis, or a competitive bowling match. Children can stay healthy and have fun with math when learning to add and keep score.
7. Balance the Checkbook - Give your child a glimpse of the real world as he compares the bank statement to your checkbook. A new appreciation for "where all the money goes" will help him understand the cost of living and the importance of spending money wisely.
8. Redecorate a Room - Make math come alive as your child measures and calculates area to determine the amount of paint, wallpaper, and carpet necessary to make the room of his dreams.
9. Calculate Car Costs and Expenses - If your preteen is already begging for a vehicle, let him research the cost of purchasing a car, including sales tax, license fees, and insurance costs. Also, have him determine the car's miles per gallon and other costs involved in owning a car.
10. Find a Part-time Job - Perhaps the best way to keep math real is to help your child find a part-time job. As he learns to budget his money from tithing to savings and expenses, your child will understand percentages and how to determine savings goals for desired purchases.