“I don’t know why we need to study Math!” “Math is not useful in the real world.” “I don’t need Math, I’m going to be a fashion designer/musician/fireman.” We’ve all heard this before. For some of us, we’ve heard it from our kids.
No question, Math is important for mathematicians, scientists, engineers, and even bankers. But what if your child does not want to become one? Or why should they care, they’re only kids!
Our family plays this game of making up stories to pass the time on long car trips. Once, the challenge was to “tell a sad story in four words.” And the best answer we got was:
I failed my Math test.
Being bad at Math has not only become acceptable, we even find it funny when people claim they’re terrible at it.
But bad Math is not amusing all the time. If you’ve received change from a cashier or taxi driver that’s a few hundred less, or if you’ve been fooled by discounts that really didn’t save you much, then you know what I mean.
Whether we realize it or not, Math is used in the real world and not just in the confines of the classroom. We use Math when we go to the grocery, when we follow recipes, and even to know how much time we have before our favorite TV show starts.
A fashion designer who is bad at Math will probably get your measurements wrong, and wonders if your waistline is 28 inches or 28 centimeters. (See Project Runway Season 2 winner Chloe Dao talk about Math in Fashion / Get the Math, and Samantha Borsari’s presentation about Math in Fashion.)
Musicians may not be aware of it, but beautiful music is full of Math: beats, measures and pitches. (See Math in Music at Get the Math.)
A fireman who can’t do math calculations in his head is at a disadvantage in the field. He may need to answer questions like “How long before I run out of water if I pump out X liters of water per minute?” (See Firefighter Math.)
But why should kids care about Math outside of the classroom? Here are five reasons why:
- Know how many days it is before my birthday/Christmas/summer vacation – Kids like to count down the months and days before an anticipated event. And being off by one month may mean waiting for another 30 days!
- Compute how much money I need to buy the book/toy/treat I like – You also need Math to know to know if you already have enough money, and to make sure you get the right change. Start young kids with treats that are ₱10 or less so they can do the calculations mentally.
- Divide candies/chocolate bars/marbles evenly between siblings – Use division (or even skip counting) to split the loot evenly among siblings and prevent squabbles.
- Avoid the “Who eats the last piece of cake?” problem – Divide the cake into quarters when you have 3 people sharing and you will understand the “last piece of cake” problem. Knowing that you should divide it into thirds can help you avoid it and preserve world peace. Variations of this problem also apply to piles of cookies, jellybeans, and apples.
- Figure out how many minutes of screen time I have left – If you tell your kids they can watch videos or play games for only 30 minutes, then they should care about how many precious minutes they have left. This skill can also be applied to knowing how much longer the drive will take on those long car trips.
It’s important for kids to learn Math skills even if they don’t end up in a Math-oriented job. They can clearly help them excel even in other careers.
Math also plays a big role in a kid’s life, even if they don’t realize it. And contrary to popular belief, being good in Math is never a bad thing.
It may also help you keep your sanity during those long car trips, when your kids start asking “Are we there yet?”
Can you think of other reasons why kids should learn Math? Share it with us in the comments below.