Top 10 Tips for Making Math Real to Students

Making math real has always been a tall task. It’s difficult to even describe math because it’s such an abstract subject. I mean, how can you turn something so abstract to something real? Sharon Fisher from BJU Press emphasizes the value of math and teaching that value to our children and doing it through a Biblical worldview. This summary, from an interview with Sharon Fisher on the Curriculum 2.0 Online Homeschool Summit, will list out my top 10 essential tips for making math real to students.

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The Value of Math and Teaching the Value of Math to Our Children

In an earlier post, I explained that math is a tool that we use every day. [Check out: Teach Math from a Christian Worldview: 5 Takeaways] While parents often look for Christian curriculum for every other subject, they’ll choose a secular one for math. However, if our goal is to help our kids to use all of their skills including math, then it is really important to include God in our math teaching. God has a lot to say about math. It is the language that He used to explain His creation. Sharon Fisher encourages parents to teach their children that math is valuable. By counting change correctly and measuring things correctly, we are serving God and honoring God by being good stewards of what He’s given.

math is the language of the unvirse

What is a Biblical Worldview of Math?

So before I tell you the my top 10 tips for making math real to students, we need revisit the topic of a Christian worldview. Here are topics that you should look for when choosing curriculum, especially if Biblical worldview is important to you.

  • Creation – God made man in His image and gave him dominion over everything.
  • Fall – Since Adam and Eve’s sin, this world has been broken. And that sin a major affect on us and how we think.
  • Redemption – Using critical thinking can redeem the broken things of this world. For example, when disaster strikes, using your math skills by being good stewards and showing love to your neighbors can redeem that situation.
  • Jesus’ Second Coming – Jesus is coming back again. He will make all things new.
  • Day-to-Day Lives – How are we going to use math today? How are we going to use math to serve the Lord and to serve other people?

Top 10 Essential Tips for Making Math Real to Students

#1 – Take it easy on the math facts.

There are many ways to help your kids learn their math facts. But understanding the concept is more important. If a calculator is appropriate to solve the problem, then go ahead and use a calculator. This doesn’t mean you stop with the math facts. Keep working on it but don’t let a problem be frustrating just because of a math fact. Bottom line, the concept is what’s important.

The goal is to solve problems and to be able to use critical thinking skills.Click To Tweet

#2- Fit math into your life.

Try to fit math into your day-to-day activities. There’s cooking, clipping coupons, going to the store, staying healthy and fit, etc. Have hands-on opportunities for kids to measure. Kids need to try things. Homeschooling is a perfect place to let them make mistakes.

tip #2 - fit math into real life

#3 – Be encouraging.

It can be so easy for us to lose our patience when teaching math. Even more so, when we’re trying to make math real. You can teach your kids fractions by baking a cake, but sometimes kids take forever to do things that you tell them to do. Don’t make them resent the fact that you’re making them do hard work. And don’t make them frustrated with it either. It’s important that they learn and are encouraged.

#4 – Talk about your jobs.

Tell your kids about what you do. Show them how you use math every day at work and how you can use it to serve God. Be hero to your kids. They need to see that you care about what you do and your application of math.

make math real by explaining your career

#5- Give them opportunities to use and apply math.

Let them make new drapes or a picnic table. Have them do something nice for their neighbors that require math. Allow them to make mistakes doing those things so they can realize what they’re doing wrong and problem solve their way to a solution.

#6 – Look at your kids’ interests.

Include math in your kids’ interests. Whether it be making clothes, animation, drawing, or cooking. When you include math in their interests, they end up learning something bigger than math facts. They won’d be frustrated with it because it’s something they like to do and can be successful in it. Share in your kids’ happiness.

#7 – One word: FOOD

Include food in your lessons as much as you can when it’s appropriate. Use M&M’s, Hershey bars, brownies, cake, etc. Make math fun.

include food in your math lessons

#8 – Cut back and do less.

Make that time with your kids enjoyable. If they’re successful with the concept, move on. If they’re struggling and frustrated, then take a break. Something their brains need time to rest just like ours. So let them think on it and take another stab at it the next day when they can be more positive.

#9 – Give them something they’re good at doing.

Sometimes kids get down on themselves when they can’t do a problem right. So give them something that they’re really good at doing today. Math is something that God has given them and can use today in some way.

#10 – Have a good teacher’s edition.

After teaching math for about 5 years, having a good teacher’s book is really important. It helps you explain the concept to your child. So when choosing a math curriculum, look through the teacher’s edition. Go through the table of contents and see what’s being covered through the year. Take your time, research, and ask a lot of questions.

Conclusion to My Top 10 Tips for Making Math Real

You’re doing a good thing. Homeschooling is an investment in your child and is not a waste of time. Make math real to them. Remember, in all things, when we make mistakes or do things well, God gives grace. Just stick with it and give God the glory.

How do you make math real for your children? Tell me some of the lessons you’ve taught apart from the book. Please leave a comment below.

Top 10 Tips for Making Math Real to Students

If you want to listen to this session, register for free at homeschoolsummits.com. This is the session is entitled “Math That You Will Use in Real Life” with Sharon Fisher. Even though the summit is over, I believe you can still view the free sessions. I’ll post more summaries of the free sessions soon, so stay tuned!
Here are a few more of my summaries from Curriculum 2.0 Online Homeschool Summit:
“In the Trenches: A Look at Math in a Real-Life Homeschool” with Kathie Morrissey: How to Teach Math to Someone Who Just Doesn’t Get It
“Teaching Math from a Christian Worldview” with Katherine Loop: Teach Math from a Christian Worldview: 5 Takeaways
“How to Teach Math So Students Will Understand It and Be Successful” with Steve Demme: Building Confident Problem Solvers