No matter what type of homeschooler you are, worksheets usually have their time and place. BUT math is an everyday part of life and should be practiced naturally — not just on paper. The best way to do this is by guiding your kids through the math needed in everyday situations and letting them take the lead when they can. I am a big fan of practical life skills and try to make sure at every stage in our homeschool life my kids are learning realistic and useful math applications in everyday situations. Here are 7 ways I do that….
7 Ways to Include Math Practice in Real Life
Grocery Shopping– This includes budgeting, planning out a shopping trip from grocery store ads, comparison shopping at the store, paying, and counting change back. Allowing your child to take the lead on some of the shopping is a great way for them to get real life math experience. This can apply to any type of shopping really- school supplies, school clothes, birthdays, etc.
Cooking– This is one of the most natural ways to “sneak in” math practice. Measuring, dividing recipes in half or doubling, making substitutions, and so on. Your child will hardly realize they are learning when they are in the kitchen whipping up a treat or the family meal! Other ideas include cutting pizza into halves or quarters, pie into eight equal pieces, or figuring out spaghetti to feed the whole family.
Scheduling/Time Management-Learning to tell time was difficult and boring for my oldest child. For a while I pushed on because “She NEEDS to know how to tell time!” Finally I realized that worksheets and constant daily practice on our little plastic pretend clock was not cutting it. I started using the clock throughout the day to mark things like technology time, reading time, and field trip start times. In the natural rhythm of our days she began to look at the clock as a way to have a grasp on the day and quickly began to pick up and have a strong understanding of 24 hours, an hour, a minute, as well as how to read our regular analog clock and new watch I gave her.
Allowance-If you give your child an allowance, they can learn to figure how much money they have coming, how much to save, spend, and tithe, how to budget wants vs. needs, and also goal setting. We made a simple “check register” on a legal pad for tracking spending and savings.
Calendar-Although we have spent time learning the months and days by rote and through song, they don’t really take on meaning until they have a practical application. I let my daughter begin to take charge of the calendar — marking down birthdays, holidays, co-op schedules, and field trips. She learned much more quickly this way and had a firmer grasp on the days than when she was filling out dates mechanically. Using a student planner like this one can help as well:
Gardening– There are many ways math can be practiced while enjoying gardening. Allow your child to draw out the garden on graph paper, budget for and buy seeds, mark the calendar for fertilizing, and harvest. Your child can measure out the garden, dig down the correct depth, and measure the distance between each plant or crop.
Lemonade Stand– Or Girl Scout Cookie table, yard sale, bracelet making, dog walking, or other creative projects. Let little entrepreneurs figure out a way to earn money, how to add and subtract income and expenses, making change for customers, saving, and spending. This is a great life skill!
How do you work math practice into real life?
Check out more homeschool math ideas from the iHomeschool Network here:
Homeschooling in Tough Times – Jenn Simple At Home
How to Teach Your Kids at the Grocery Store – Living Life and Learning
Teachable Moments When Discussing Homeownership – Living Ideas