Every parent and I’m sure every teacher and tutor has heard the common childhood whine regarding math, ‘When will I ever use this stuff?’ usually followed by the sound of a pencil hitting a book.
I feel sorry for children surrounded by adults who reply ‘never’ to this question, and trust me I know a few, because in our house that question is allways met with, ‘every single day!’ So, okay, Dad’s an aircraft engineer using advanced algebraic formulas and ratios from dawn to dusk but I’m not, and I’m the one that throws the math out there.
Putting math into scenarios, problems and questions students can relate to is a tactic already used by tutors but students will achieve more if parents are encouraged to do it too. Just like dog training where the owner is an equal target for correction, consider training your tutees’ parents to, ‘Math in the Real World’ with their kids.
Provide the parents of math students with a prompt sheet on how to discuss math, demonstrate and use math on a daily basis doing everyday tasks. Make your own or borrow the ideas below.
Top of my list is always the kitchen and at this time of year with the holiday season and company coming there is always the need to double up on recipes. I taught my daughter fractions over cookie sheets and pie dishes. The recipe calls for 1/4 cup of sugar and we’re doubling up, how much sugar? The trick here is to not allow use of the 1/4 cup twice – exact cups must be used. Make it fun if they struggle by using water to fill the 1/2 cup from the 1/4 cup etc.
The grocery store is just a plethora of math and ‘Is the deal a deal game’ is a great way to show where math is used to save money. I allow cell phone calculators for this because it’s a game after all and math is not about doing everything in your head, it’s about knowing what to do on the calculator. Using stores buy-one-get-one-free, or buy-one-get-one-half-off deals to work out if it’s really worth it compared to a store brand or competitor. The ‘OMG Mom, they’ve upped the price to make the offer!’ was heart warming moment to me, and now the phone comes out at every deal!
Percentage offers are another favorite – round numbers such as 10 or 20% in their heads and the rest on the phone. Casually ask, ‘I wonder how much that will cost?’
Sales tax is crucial for kids to avoid disappointment at the register. Mental math for round numbers and phones for the rest or even estimate mentally then check on the phone. I was horrified at the long winded way my daughter started to work out 6% on $27.50 with several steps and even more frustration. I advised her to simply multiply by 1.06 to get the total with the tax added on – Life Changing – what are they teaching them?
I don’t know about you but we are always up to something so calculating areas for paint is a nice easy one, flooring for the more ambitious. It doesn’t have to be exact just close enough to estimate the job cost or paint can size.
How far, how long and how much will it cost? Planning road trips is not only good for math but makes a child feel part of the planning. I always tease my kids with, ‘you can walk the rest of the way if you’re wrong!’.
But all joking aside, and back to the dog training metaphor, I use treats and rewards. If the math saves money on deals or sizes of items in the grocery store I let them keep the difference and add it all up throughout the shop and then find something to buy for themselves, not forgetting to work out the tax of course.
Make a flyer or brochure and hand to your parents when they sign up for math tutoring!
Be sure to log your giveaways in Oases Online alongside your scheduling and billing.