When my wife and I first found out that we were going to have a kid, we instantly became aware of the “parenting class” industry that had existed in our community for years without ever attracting our attention. Suddenly, there were all of these flyers, newspapers ads, and emails, offering us practical parenting instruction in friendly classroom settings.
And, as new parents-to-be, we were game for them. Almost immediately, we signed up for the childbirth class, the baby care and CPR class, the “how to install a car seat” class, the breastfeeding class, you name it.
(The only classes I remember us opting out of were the “baby massage” class and the “parenting for dads” class, which I found more than a little insulting.)
My dad used to say “close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades”, however in the vast majority of everyday math that we use throughout our lives we rely on “close enough” a lot more often than we do getting the kind of very specific answer that’s demanded of us in math class.
In fact, using the “close enough” vs. “not close” evaluation will suffice in almost every math-related situation most people will encounter in life unless they’re an engineer or statistician.
Somewhere between the comforting ride in a car seat putting them down for a nap and the begging for the keys when they want to drive themselves to mall, lie the “are we there yet?” years of roughly 5 – 14.
And despite what, to our logical adult minds should be the obvious answer – that we are quite plainly still somewhere in the woods between the river and grandma’s house — the refrain goes on, usually met either by the stock Dad answer of ‘not yet, still a ways to go’ or the more effective and time-tested mom-answer of “who wants a snack?”
But, if you’re like my family and a cross-state drive is not an unusual occurrence in delivering the grandchildren to grandparents at the holidays or just for visit, you know that all the DVDs, car bingo games, coloring books, and sticky, salty snacks that seek out the nether regions of the seat belt wells in the back seat are not enough to stave off that eternal question of children trapped in the car. No, not even tales of how Mom and Dad used to have to suffer this exact same kind of torture sans an overhead DVD player or the Internet.
As every parent knows, kids love to help cook things, and while they view this process mostly as a chance to play mad scientist with the flour and butter and vanilla, there’s are some great opportunities to introduce useful math concepts whenever you cook together.
For younger kids (2-5), it’ll be more about very simple concepts (counting eggs, identifying shapes of sticks of butter, pepperoni slices, etc.).
But for those 6 and up you can start introducing them to real world fractions, estimating, measuring, and distribution principles.