Below, I discuss one of the five important ways that parents can help their child enjoy mathematics and do well in the subject. (1) Have a positive attitude towards mathematics, (2) Emphasize reasoning over memorization, (3) Reading is impactful, (4) Ask open-ended questions, and (5) Play mathematics games and puzzles.
Play mathematics games and puzzles
Children enjoy playing games and games can be a great context for mathematics learning and discussion. Through games children can develop appropriate, efficient and flexible use of mathematical strategies. Family game time can provide fun, a good challenge, and enable children to develop their mathematical understanding. Games with dice and cards can help students develop their mathematics skills. There are many games specific to mathematics that can be played with dice or cards. One example is Multiplication Tetris. For this game dice or playing cards (2-9, with aces as a 1) are used with grid paper. Players take turns rolling two dice or picking two cards. The two numbers are then used for the width and length dimensions of a rectangle. The rectangle can be placed anywhere in the grid paper as long as it does not overlap with another rectangle. Play continues until one player does not have a place for their rectangle. The figure below shows the start of a game.
Another game that can be played is Small, Large, or Target. This game is played by having players try to get the smallest number, the largest number, or be closest to a target number. This is decided at the start of the game along with what operation will be used (addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division). The number of boxes used in this game can be varied with 2, 4, 6, or 8 boxes. Ten playing cards are needed (2-9 and Ace as 1 and Jack as 0). One player picks one of the ten cards while the cards are face down. After the card is selected each player decides what box to place the number in. Once a number is placed in a box it cannot be changed. Play continues until all boxes are filled with a numbers. Players then solve the problem and the winner is determined. The winner is based on what was selected at the start of the game; either trying for the smallest number, the largest number, or being closest to a target number. The figure below has a sample game with two sample game cards. For this game, the card with the sum of 159 is the winner. Games provide an ideal context for children to have a positive attitude towards mathematics, persevere in problem solving, discuss mathematics, and see that they can improve through effort and using their resources.
Christian, author, and professor of mathematics education.