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Get Real! Real Life for Ways for Parents to Provide Math Help

Mar 4, 2008
Does your toddler appear to have a streak of your genius? Do you seek strategies to enrich your toddler's intellectual capacity?

Recent research has challenged the conventional notion that small children have native ability to distinguish quantity and to count.

Research by Janellen Huttenlocher, Susan Levine and Kelly Mix indicates that toddlers may not have the native ability to distinguish different items because of the level of their language development skills. Contrary to what "nativists" believe, the research team concludes in their book Quantitative Development in Infancy and Early Childhood, the young child's ability to count and perform other quantitative tasks is dependent upon related language skills. Children who acquire early language skills are better able to understand and apply tasks related to discrete items such as counting.

One might conclude that the language-math connection is so strong that toddlers would benefit most by being read to, by exposure to language and to other cognitive skills which enhance their expressive and receptive language abilities.

So read to your child, expose your toddler to language-rich experiences, let the tyke see you doing the everyday things that require quantitative skills and have confidence that language precedes math.

In the Kitchen Tutoring Tips
Bond with your grade-schooler and bring math into everyday life with these cooking activities:

As you cook ahead, involve your elementary school student in measuring using cups, teaspoons and metric measure. Show your child calibration on measuring devices in the kitchen and write your addition of fractions for the child to see the practical uses of the abstract concepts of math s/he uses in the classroom in drills.

Try following a recipe such as this one for Cranberry Orange Relish to incorporate the practical uses of math via measurement. Determine with your child which bowls to use based on size of combined ingredients. Introduce temperature scales and degrees when you bake. There is a world of mathematics in your kitchen waiting for you to use to the best interests of your child. Remember that the best learning experience is Mom's and Dad's model.

Cranberry Orange Relish with Measurements on the Side
One bag (12 ounces or two cups) fresh cranberries
Point out to your child that the measure in weight and also in volume.

3/4 cup sugar or 1/2 cup honey - Point out to your child that volume measured is not always equivalent to weight or to food qualities such as sweetness.

One orange, with peel on, scrubbed well and cut into quarters, then each quarter cut into quarters
Show your child that the orange is a sphere, Cutting the sphere into quarters yields 4 pieces, each one of which is 1/4. Cutting each piece into quarters again yields a total of sixteen pieces. Illustrate this in fractions by showing that 1divided by 4 is four quarters; 1/4 divided by 4 is 1/4x1/4, equaling 1/16. Have the child count the 16 pieces to verify the experiment. Measure the volume of the orange pieces in a measuring cup.

Ask the child how big a pan will be necessary to hold the two cups of cranberries and the measure of oranges. S/he will have to add the measures and - with your help - convert to pints and then to quarts.

Using the appropriately sized pot, add enough water to rise to 1 inch along the side of the pot bring to a boil uncovered and cook on a low simmer only until some of the cranberries burst. Remove from the heat and cool before using.
About the Author
Ann Knapp writes articles for Math Made Easy - an organization that provides Math help for Algebra, Geometry, math homework - using math online tutorial services and math tutorial cd so you can watch your math scores soar.
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