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Maths in action

Food shopping with the kids

When your kids are sitting in the classroom, learning how to make numbers work can seem hard work.  But do they make the correlation between what they learn in the classroom and real life?

When every mobile phone includes a calculator, formulas on spreadsheets do the calculations for you and most shop tills do the job of working out how much change to give, why do you need to be good at maths?

So part of your parental duties might be to flag up where maths comes in really useful!

For younger kids

Encourage them to check their change when they go to the shop – or to check yours for you.

If they’re saving up their pocket money, show them how to work out how much per week they need to save to buy whatever they’re saving for.  Transfer that to a calendar so they can see when they will achieve their goal.

Measure their stride and then get them to count their steps to school or the park or the shop or walking the dog and work out how far it is.

Help them to measure themselves and look at the clothes labels to see how their measurements correlate to the actual size.  The first step is for them to understand that a jumper for ‘age 7’ doesn’t necessarily mean that it will fit them because they happen to be 7, but it relates to their actual size.

As they get older

Involve them in the weekly shop.  What’s the budget for a week’s shopping?  What is the cost of each item?  With online supermarket sites, they can actually look and get accurate figures.  This not only helps them to understand budgets, but also will raise awareness of the cost of luxuries like crisps and fizzy drinks.

If your family is health conscious ask them to shop using the ‘traffic light’ system so the majority of the shop falls into the green healthy zone, with fewer amber items and only a very few red items.

Suggest they look in your car handbook and find out what the luggage capacity is.  This is in cubic metres or litres – and the first step may be to translate what a ‘litre’ looks like!  Then you can put them in charge of working out what will go in on your next family trip.

You could do something similar when clearing out the shed or garage and working out what will fit in it.  Alongside this encourage them to develop an ‘eye’ for what will fit in a particular space – there’s nothing like common sense when it comes to practical tasks.

Be creative

Look for opportunities to use maths daily and get your children to use their number skills on an ongoing basis.

Developing awareness of how maths impacts on everyday life will give them a different perspective and help them to develop a practical approach to manipulating numbers.