Finding the Fun in Math

Many kids balk at completing math worksheets. Here's how to make this homework fun -- and foster interest in the subject.

Q: My daughter has been getting math work sheets at school and hates doing them. Is there any way to enliven the subject for her?

A: "Most kids groan when they see math work sheets headed their way," says Grace Davilá Coates, director of the Equals and Family Math program at the University of California's Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley. "But a lot of elementary school teachers still rely on this 'drill-and-kill' approach to teaching math."

The key to making work sheets more fun for your child is to keep them from getting monotonous. Take a break from the usual drill and try having your child figure out only the first 5 or 10 problems by herself, to make sure she understands the concepts. Then let her use a calculator to finish the rest. "Most kids think it's so much fun to press buttons that they don't even realize they're still practicing most of the steps and learning the essential concepts," says Coates.

Foster her interest in math by relating it to real-life activities. "Go beyond work sheets by finding interesting ways for your child to enjoy the subject," suggests Coates. For instance, cooking together teaches her about various measurements and fractions. And letting her figure out how to spend her allowance utilizes addition, subtraction, and division.

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