I don’t love math. But, I don’t hate it anymore either. I have acquired a begrudging respect for math, because I realize that contrary to what my 17 year old self would have thought, I use it every day.

Here are 5 things I’ve done to cultivate a passion for math in my four boys, and gained a greater appreciation for it in the process.

**1. Embrace all math methods and math teachers**

Mention *Common core math* to a group of parents, and it’s bound to elicit strong emotions. I have been frustrated with math worksheets which appear to make something simple way more complicated than it needed to be. I love art, but I am skeptical that illustrating an equation will help my boys attend MIT someday. Rather than reminiscing about how I learned math as a child, I’ve attempted to understand and embrace the different methods my kids learn in school. I have had to swallow my frustration, and restrain my eye rolling on a few occasions.

Don’t get me started about the parent letter telling us not to teach our kids to borrow the one.

Eventually, the boys learned my old school method from their teachers. Creating a positive, supportive relationship with teachers is important for the long term success of your child and advocating for their long term educational needs. A friendly approach can also help your child get differentiated or more challenging math curriculum sooner if it’s needed. It can be difficult to remember though math is a linear subject, there can be several ways to solve the same problem.

**2. Integrate math into your routine activities as a family**

Grocery shopping? Have your child keep a running total of the cost. Estimate how many organic apples you can purchase for $5.00. Calculate the price per ounce on a item to see if the larger size is the better value. What’s the most expensive item in your cart? What’s the least expensive? How could you decrease your total grocery bill? Shopping ~~ may~~ will take longer, but can offer valuable math enrichment opportunities for your child.

Are you planning a family vacation? Calculate how many miles you will be driving. Estimate how many times you will need to fill up the gas tank. If you’re flying, how can you pack to decrease the weight of your baggage and avoid extra fees? What’s your total budget for the trip? How can you save money on meals or activities? Saving money is a great way to appreciate math.

**3. Make math fun**

Count the loose change (or Lego bricks) between your couch cushions. Bake using only the 1/3 measuring cup. Calculate the percentage off of a sale item. Is it really a good deal? When it says *up to* 75% off what does that mean? How many gallons of water does your household use each month? How many could you save by implementing a few of these tips?

**4. Create real life story problems **

You want to paint your 10 x 12 bedroom blue. How many gallons of paint will you need to purchase if the room will require 3 coats of paint? The high end self priming paint will cover the walls with 2 coats. Is it worth the $10 more per gallon for the more expensive paint? Why or why not?

Jen and Craig have 4 boys. They all have ADD. It takes an average of 7 minutes to find a lost item in the morning. If there are 2 lost items per morning, how many minutes of extra time should they allow in their morning routine to be on time to school and avoid the tardy bell?

**5. Find a math mentor**

I took one year more, than the required minimum, math to graduate from high school, and after 20 years, I don’t remember the difference between sign and cosign, or what it was really for. Of several gifted adults who mentor our boys, one is a former college math professor. I’m sure that she will be helping them more as the boys get older and their homework is beyond my abilities. Part of being gifted is understanding that I don’t have to know how to do everything well, I just need to find the right resources.

* Genealogy Jen’s Challenge of the week- *Bake something delicious and double or triple the recipe. Challenge yourself to do the math mentally. Share your treats with a neighbor, friend or your accountant. It might make the process of finishing your taxes or balancing your checking account a little bit sweeter… especially if it is a brownie.

This post is part of Hoagies’ gifted education monthly blog hop series. To read more perspectives on March Math-ness, click the graphic below.

Hi Jen, I loved your post — especially your ideas about using math during daily activities, and the real-life paint problem! I am looking forward to trying your ideas at home. 🙂

Thanks for commenting Emily- I’m glad that you found something useful that you can implement at home. I had another real life story problem about going out to a fancy dinner with your significant other. It involved another couple Bob and Carol who ordered an expensive bottle of wine, appetizers and steak and want to divide the check evenly 4 ways when you and your partner ordered a less expensive entree and didn’t eat their appetizers or drink their wine.

Hi Jen, This brought back several fun memories from when my now 26, 27, and 30 year old children were younger. If they wanted us to buy something, we encouraged them to write it on our grocery list. If they didn’t spell it correctly, we didn’t buy that item. It was all in fun, but they probably thought of this as tough love. 😉 I agree, there are all kinds of ways to make these math and other subjects fun. Great ideas. 🙂

Thanks for sharing Karen. I am totally going to use your idea with spelling words for my youngest.

Works on husbands, too. 🙂

That would require mine to remember to bring the list with him, Karen. That’s a whole different issue!

Yes, you are right, but I meant that the husband does not get the items he wants unless he spells them correctly…(another fun way to play with the kids). 🙂

These are great! I’m on the quest for a math mentor at the moment. It’s the first subject I’ll outsource 🙂

Your ideas are all calculative, Jen, and the number crunching will truly help to develop the flair for math and hone it to greater proficiency.