Making Math Relevant to Our Children

Aristotle has never really liked Math. Getting him to practice his arithmetic is like pulling teeth out without anaesthetic. Perhaps it is because of this that I have always assumed he was weak at Math and being the daughter of a Math teacher, this bothered me greatly. For a long time, I have searched for ways to get him interested in Math without having to bash him over the head with it. Thanks to the iPad, we had some good results with a few Math apps:

Image courtesy of John Kasawa /

Recently, my SIL taught Aristotle how to make a Banana Loaf and she discovered he was actually capable of applying his Mathematical knowledge to work out the quantities of his ingredients. Since he’s been quite eager to help out in the kitchen, I got him to practice his Math again when I taught him how to make Jam Drops. We had a half used block of butter which wasn’t enough for the recipe, so I asked him how much more butter would we have to take from the new block to make sure we had enough to meet the needs of the recipe and he worked it out! It was nice to see him apply himself for a change and not whinge and complain about how hard it was.

Tip: Get your child to work out how much the new weight should be rather than zeroing the scales.

This experience reminded me of something I read in an article recently. The article related the efforts of a teacher – Juárez Correa – to increase the standard of the students in his classes. By changing his teaching methods and engaging his students, he discovered the innate mathematical ability of a girl in his class that no one had ever noticed before then. When he asked her why she hadn’t expressed much interest in math in the past, since she was clearly good at it, she replied, “Because no one made it this interesting.”

I won’t go as far as to say I made math interesting for Aristotle but I think this experience did help him to see the relevance of math in our daily lives. At least he can see now that mummy doesn’t make him learn math just to torture him…

Other ways to teach children the practical applications of math in our lives:

  • When Aristotle was younger, my mother discovered his ability to add when she made him promises to get Thomas the Tank Engine “surprises” from Australia. Grandma would pretend to lose count of the number of surprises she promised and Aristotle had to add them up so she wouldn’t forget. What a sly grandma she is but obviously much better at motivating my kid to practice math than me…
  • If you give your child pocket money, you can ask her how much more she needs to save up to buy that toy she wants and how many more days it will take before she can get it.

How do you make Math relevant to your child’s day?

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of (a website on parenting, education, child development) and (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

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