While you may think that math is only for the classroom, nothing could be further from the truth. If you take a look around you, you’ll see that math is acting in nearly every part of your life.
Math in the real world ranges from grocery shopping, playing a musical instrument, saving up for that video game, to even setting schedules and agreeing to meet a person at a certain time or date. All of these things require the use of math.
Still don’t believe me? Let’s use the grocery example:
If you’re an avid grocery shopper, you know when the best sales are happening at the store, particularly if you have a larger family. If, as an example, a 8 oz can of beans is worth $1 each while a 64 oz can of beans is worth $6.99, you are going to need to calculate which deal is better. Should you buy 7 individual cans or buy the larger 64 oz can? That’s Math!
Now, why am I mentioning this? Well, the reason is that, if you are dealing with a student or you have a child that isn’t a huge fan of the subject, it’s important that they realize just how important math is in our day-to-day life.
Below, I’ve found some great ways you can bring math into your everyday life so that your kids and students are more involved and can see all the different ways math can be found in their general activities.
Math in Real Life: Table of Content
1. Spot the Math
2. Meals and Mealtime
3. DIY Projects
4. Exchange Rates
#1. Spot the Math
Every week, my family and I play a fun little game called “spot the math” where the person who wins is the person who has noticed the most examples.
Depending on just how much they feel about the game, you could play this weekly like us or you could play it daily. I have generally noticed that the least they like math the more often they should play it.
#2. Meals and Mealtime
I used that grocery example for a reason. We’ve all been there when we’ve had to stretch a dollar to keep costs from going too high. By having your kids help plan the meals with you, you can all do price comparisons so that you find the best deals.
By making it a game, not only will you help them get excited about math, but you’ll also more effectively save money on groceries!
#3. DIY Projects
Certainly a great option if you’ve got energetic children running around. Take a look at some simple things around the house you could need, like a bookshelf, small table, or chair. Is it better to buy it already made or to purchase all of the equipment and make it yourself? This is a math problem that they’re going to have to use equations for, really getting them to understand just how relevant it is in life.
#4. Exchange Rates
If your kids move around and they find themselves in another country growing up, this is an excellent way to learn math. It’s actually the way I began to really understand how important math was as well as when I started to get excited about it.
Even if you’re still at home, the world’s economy is in a place that you can get pretty much anything anywhere. Check the price differences between the many different currencies with your kids and find which will have the best exchange rate. $10 in the US is not the same as $10 in Australia or $10 in Germany.
Trust me, if you play this game right, you will find yourself constantly checking the exchange rates and seeing how strong your money is today in various countries as opposed to yesterday.
When going out and shopping for clothes, toys, and other things, giving your kids a budget and what I like to call “a shopping challenge”, can be a great way to get them enjoying math.
What do I mean by “shopping challenge”? Well, what you do is you give each of them between $15 and $25 whenever your family go shopping. Give them a “challenge” to see who can get a full outfit with the amount that they have, allowing them to keep whatever change they have left.
This is not only a very inexpensive way to shop, but it also gives them a reward for saving money and using math.
Another great way you can show math in your life and your kid’s lives is by tracking the utilities. How much is your water bill? How much do you spend on tv or the internet? By being aware of your utility cost, you not only see how much you’re spending in real life, but your kids see math clearly in action.
If you make it a game where any reduction in the next month’s bill costs can be given to anyone that gets the best grades, you can make this super fun and rewarding.
#7. Budgeting Having your kids help with the budget for the month is another way they can get engaged with the prospect of using math. So that they aren’t too overwhelmed, have them focus on one individual section (groceries, clothes, appliances, etc) where they can put their heads together and see just how much can be saved in an area.
#8 (Secret Bonus) Using Algebra At the upper levels, you can use algebra without ever talking about math. Why? Because algebra is largely just placing equations on things around us in the real world. Things like gas mileage for different cars, cost-per-use for an appliance, amount eaten per person, etc. These are all algebraic equations that can be broken down in real life for your kids.
As you can see, if you know what to look for, math is pretty much everywhere around us in our daily lives. Rather than just some silly stuff in a textbook, math is something your children will use every day in virtually every way.