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Whether your children love or hate math, it’s a necessary subject. Many children don’t understand its necessity, though, and continually ask the question, “When will I ever use this in real life?” We can help our children understand the answer to that question when we make math meaningful by connecting it to real life.
I like to connect math to real life as often as possible in our homeschool for more than just a solid answer to that age-old question. Making real life connections goes a long way in preparing my children for all their future experiences in the real world.
How to Make Math Meaningful
In our home, we work from our math textbook approximately three days per week and spend the other two days doing what I like to call living math. During at least one of those living math days each week, we are working on math activities that build real life connections.
There are many, many ways to connect math to real life. I’ll share a few ideas with you to help you see all the possibilities.
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Read Math Literature
There are some really great books available these days that teach math within the context of a story. In these books, students see real (or plausibly real) scenarios unfold in ways that involve math seamlessly. The Sir Cumference series by Cindy Neuschwander is a great example of real life math literature.
It’s not imperative to complete follow-up activities after reading math literature, but we often do in our home. For instance, Sir Cumference and the Round Table covers the math topics of circumference, diameter, radius and pi. After reading, it’s fun (and further connects my children to real life) to find several circles around the house to measure. I’ll often introduce simple formulas like D=2r and C=π•d and work through them as we measure.
Work Through Family Projects
As a parent, you are working on math-related projects all the time. Think about it – budgets, checkbook calculations, menu planning with coupons and store circulars, measurements for household projects, recipe doubling, comparing prices while shopping, paying bills, and so much more! Depending on the ages and abilities of your children, include them in the real work alongside you.
As our children have grown, we have also made a point to allow them as often as possible to have their own real accounts and take on their own projects which require plenty of math. This can be as simple as opening a savings account in which they place part of their allowance each week to walking beside them as they get their first loan for a car. It’s nice to have children at home while they learn how to manage practical math matters on their own.
Use Real-Life Math Resources
Sometimes I’m just too tired to come up with meaningful, real-life math activities on my own each week. Over the years, I’ve compiled a small arsenal of resources that are easy to grab ideas and run. Here are some of my favorites that span a wide age range.
- 100+ Living Math Activities (K-12)
- 25 Candy Math Activities (1-6)
- Challenge Math Activity Books (1-8)
- Math Apprentice Online (5-9)
- Real-Life Projects (6-12)
When children clearly see the practical side of math, I find they are much more willing to consider it as a reasonable school subject. And, reasonable school subjects are often accompanied my much less whining.