• Dr. Monica Cavender

Good times

Helping your child get better at math doesn't have to be difficult, painful, or scary. Don't be fooled -- just because games are fun doesn't mean they are frivolous. We tend to think that when children are playing, they aren't learning and vice versa. But children do learn through play, and having fun can even help them learn more efficiently.

In the process of playing a game, your child may develop interest and responsibility. She may want to do the games repeatedly and as a choice during free time. What would happen with a problem-packed worksheet, workbook page, or flashcards?

As you join in the games found at Zach's Backpack, you will begin to perceive your child's strengths and weaknesses in math and know what he or she will need to practice. Any game can be changed to meet the needs of your child. Don't hesitate to play games more than once. See it as meaningful practice that you and your child both enjoy, therefore you want to do again and again.

While playing a game, children don't always know what to do next. Here are a few good questions to help them begin to help themselves and not to rely on you, the parent, to give them the answer. As parents, we need to ask our children good questions to promote the kind of thinking they require to give good answers. Questions encourage reflection and help children make mathematical connections. Ask your children about their own ideas. They often have some, just not often asked about their thinking.

* Tell me more about that?

* What is another way to think about that?

*Can you draw a picture or show 2 different ways?

*Can you start with something you already know?

*How would you explain it to someone younger than you?

Also really cool, is encourage the child to ask you questions about your thinking. It would be valuable to share your illustrations, representations, and how you think about numbers and operations with your child.

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