Maths is everywhere and you can make it make ‘cents’!

Remember when you were younger, while doing your Maths homework, thinking to yourself: “When will I ever need to use this?” when looking at your maths homework? One of the main reasons for this is probably that maths is a skill you were not aware you would use in all aspects of your life. Understanding the use of Maths in everyday life is important and kids understanding that Maths is everywhere, is vital. Practising mathematics outside the classroom is a great way to help your kids improve their skills in the classroom.

There are many aspects in our everyday lives which require mathematical knowledge and it’s time to bring them into home activities like chores, shopping, and your child’s favourite – travelling when schools close. So, let’s start with the favourite and work our way backwards!

Maths plays an integral part in compiling a grocery list. It helps us know what we want to buy and how much we need to spend on this. It can also help us figure out the difference between how much money we actually have versus our desire to purchase luxury items – an opportunity for a great life lesson to be learnt. Now this is a great way to get your kids counting, buying and saving for later.

Here’s a little shopping game:
1.    Invite your kids to help you write down the grocery list. 
2.    Then have them categorise the list – kitchen, cleaning, toiletries, etc. 
3.    Now it’s time to put their money where their list is! From the list, have your kids show you how much they think each item costs. 
4.    Allow them to calculate the total budget from their estimated costs. 
5.    Make the corrections (where necessary) as an equation. For example: Your kids say a kilogram of apples cost R20 but they actually cost R34. Have them calculate the difference. The winner who gets to the solution first, gets an extra R2.50 added to their budget.
6.    Encourage them to write their own list. 
7.    Have them calculate how much they would need. 
8.    The child who has the lowest price (best budgeting skills) for their proposed grocery list, receives an additional R5.

While it is particularly hard to convince kids that chores are for their own good, there are ways in which you can incorporate maths in a way that makes your kids feel like they are in control of their own chores – all while developing their understanding of maths.

Plus, it gives them a sense of responsibility and ownership:
1.    Give them a taste of independence and allow them to divide the chores amongst themselves and you, the parent, can review and of course make any amendments. 
2.    Have a points-based system for chores completed per day or week, with an added reward for chores completed and subtracted for chores outstanding at the end of the day or week. 
3.    If they are using it, they should measure it and the parent should be supervising it. From measuring detergent to the amount of water they need to pour into a bucket, helps them put into practice their maths skills in a way that is very natural. 
4.    Pick it up! Toys, clothes, school supplies, sports equipment, anything that belongs to your kids is theirs to tidy up and pack away in a place where it belongs. This is an opportunity for them to get organised but also have some fun. So have them colour-coordinate their clothes and organise their toys by size. 
5.    Get them in the garden. The garden is a beautiful space to learn about maths – the various plants and their different watering needs, which plants are weeds and which aren’t, helping dad count and fill the missing bricks on the pavement, etc. The garden is a great place to have your kids strategising about the different ways they could tackle the backyard – while still having fun.

There comes a time when your little ones are grown enough to want to start experiencing more of the big world. A time when they want to go to the shops on their own or even walk to school with their friends, and not have you take them. So, it is essential for our kids to understand distance and ways of travel.
The first step to on their journey to travel, is to teach them different ways of determining how far they are going:

1.    Have your kids determine how many steps it takes to get from their bedroom door to the kitchen, bathroom, lounge, etc.
2.    When playing outside with their friends, they can only be a maximum of a kilometres away from home.
3.    Before you allow them to catch the bus or taxi to school with their friends, they will need to tell you how much it will cost for them to use the different transport options and determine the cost effectiveness of each. 
4.    When traveling on their own or with friends, they determine the most efficient route to use based on the amount of distance covered relative to the route used.
5.    Parents always worry about the safety of their children and this is why before you do eventually let them get to school on the own, they will have to tell you how far their transport is from home, as well as how far from school they will be dropped off. 
6.    Give them the option to choose the next holiday destination when school holidays kick in – the only catch is that the destination is to be a max of 100km’s away. This can be a small weekend away, or even to visit uGogo and uMkhulu.

Of course, there are many more ways to incorporate maths into your child’s daily routine outside the classroom. Share your fun tips and suggestions on all our social media platforms because maths is everywhere and we would love to know where you and your child find it.