Why is it important for my child to learn math?

Math skills are important to a child’s success – both at school and in everyday life. Understanding math also builds confidence and opens the door to a range of career options.

In our everyday lives, understanding math enables us to:

manage time and money, and handle everyday situations that involve numbers (for example, calculate how much time we need to get to work, how much food we need in order to feed our families, and how much money that food will cost);

understand patterns in the world around us and make predictions based on patterns (for example, predict traffic patterns to decide on the best time to travel);

solve problems and make sound decisions;

explain how we solved a problem and why we made a particular decision;

use technology (for example, calculators and computers) to help solve problems.

How will my child learn math?

Children learn math best through activities that encourage them to:

explore;

think about what they are exploring;

solve problems using information they have gathered themselves;

explain how they reached their solutions.

Children learn easily when they can connect math concepts and procedures to their own experience. By using common household objects (such as measuring cups and spoons in the kitchen) and observing everyday events (such as weather patterns over the course of a week), they can "see" the ideas that are being taught.

An important part of learning math is learning how to solve problems. Children are encouraged to use trial and error to develop their ability to reason and to learn how to go about problem solving. They learn that there may be more than one way to solve a problem and more than one answer. They also learn to express themselves clearly as they explain their solutions.

At school, children learn the concepts and skills identified for each grade in the Ontario mathematics curriculum in five major areas, or strands, of mathematics. The names of the five strands are: Number Sense and Numeration, Measurement, Geometry and Spatial Sense, Patterning and Algebra, and Data Management and Probability. You will see these strand names on your child’s report card. The activities in this guide are connected with the different strands of the curriculum.

What tips can I use to help my child?

Be positive about math!

Let your child know that everyone can learn math.

Let your child know that you think math is important and fun.

Point out the ways in which different family members use math in their jobs.

Be positive about your own math abilities. Try to avoid saying "I was never good at math" or "I never liked math".

Encourage your child to be persistent if a problem seems difficult.

Praise your child when he or she makes an effort, and share in the excitement when he or she solves a problem or understands something for the first time.

Make math part of your child’s day.

Point out to your child the many ways in which math is used in everyday activities.

Encourage your child to tell or show you how he or she uses math in everyday life.

Include your child in everyday activities that involve math – making purchases, measuring ingredients, counting out plates and utensils for dinner.

Play games and do puzzles with your child that involve math.

They may focus on direction or time, logic and reasoning, sorting, or estimating.

Do math problems with your child for fun.

In addition to math tools, such as a ruler and a calculator, use handy household objects, such as a measuring cup and containers of various shapes and sizes, when doing math with your child.

Encourage your child to give explanations

When your child is trying to solve a problem, ask what he or she is thinking. If your child seems puzzled, ask him or her to tell you what doesn't make sense. (Talking about their ideas and how they reach solutions helps children learn to reason mathematically.)

Suggest that your child act out a problem to solve it. Have your child show how he or she reached a conclusion by drawing pictures and moving objects as well as by using words.

Treat errors as opportunities to help your child learn something new.

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