My daughter, still in preschool, is too young to know math as a school subject. However, she never tires of playing a game. She often asks to play the adding and subtracting game. Here is what that is: we take whatever we have, where we are, and add or subtract it. So for example, if we have five sugar packets and dad eats two, how many do we have left? She counts them up, and says three, with a big smile on her face. Yes, this is subtraction, but she thinks it is a game, and she loves it!
Do you know what she loves even more, games on the computer, TV, or phone. Probably because, at first, we limited her exposure to them. Now, I take a slightly different approach. I try to figure out how to make them more educational. For example, she practices the Spanish she has learned by watching Dora sing about Spanish numbers. She watches Sid the Science Kid, does the same experiment as the kids on the show, and draws a picture of each experiment in her Sid the Science Kid Journal, (just like the kids on the show do). This way she gets more out of watching TV, by participating in the learning, and I feel happy that what she has learned is being reinforced in a memorable way.
As a teacher, I have found that all kids, even those who may be resistant, love to play games and watch TV. As educators and parents we can feel guilty over giving in to this or we can use it to our advantage. Many skills that kids would refuse to practice otherwise can be introduced or reinforced using carefully selected television programs or computer games. Since math is a particularly challenging area for many kids, and the most frequent request we have for tutoring, I have included below a link to an interesting article from the New York Times by Kit Eaton with a list of math games and Apps. Maybe you will find some of these useful with your child over the upcoming break. However, don’t feel like games are only helpful to reinforce math skills, the possibilities are endless.
-Nina Parrish, M.Ed.