The Blog

As a newspaper columnist, Nancy Devlin, Ph.D. has written over 700 articles on subjects related to education and parenting. Welcome to her Classroom!

Teaching your Child How to Make change

I recently went to a summer craft show and farmer’s  market.

One  father was selling homemade cakes and cookies.  He  had  his

eight year old son helping him.  He wanted his son to  handle the

money,  adding  up the purchases and making change.  It  was  not

very  complicated because nothing cost more than $2.75.  The  son

could not do it.  He did not know how to make change of $5.00  on

a  $2.75  purchase.  The boy seemed bright enough and  I  suspect

could  have  solve that problem if it had appeared  in  his  math

workbook  page at school.   The father must have understood  this

and  was taking advantage of a unique summer opportunity to  give

his  son this concrete experience.  It was an experience the  son

would not have in school.
Summertime  presents many opportunities for parents to  teach

math concepts.  One thing you can do is take your child  shopping

with   you.    Give  yourself  time  to   make   it   a  learning

experience.    Ask your child which box of cereal is the best  to

buy.    What are the ingredients?  How much does each  one  cost?

Which  one costs more?   Does the bigger box contain more cereal?

What   about  unit pricing.   Plan on  only  spending  a  certain

amount  of money shopping and let the child estimate  if you  are

keeping within your limit.   Let him or her count up  the change.

Obviously  this  takes more time than a quick  shopping trip   on

your own but it probably does not take as much  time  as  helping

a  child with a workbook page and there are more  fringe benefits.                
Driving  in  a car gives you the opportunity of having  your

child solve interesting math problems.   How long does it take to

go 90 miles at 55 miles an hour?   How much gas do we need and do

we save money if we buy premium rather than regular gas?  You can

have your child act as navigator and give you directions from the

map.   Children can be involved in all aspects of planning for  a

vacation  by  car.   Do  not lose  this  exceptional  educational

opportunity  because you feel it is too time consuming.   The pay

off is worth the time spent.
You can have a whole dinner conversation in which you do all

of  your mathematical figuring using base 8 instead of  base  l0.

You  can  also try some logic games.   A cup and saucer  together

weigh twelve ounces.  The cup weighs twice as much as the saucer.

How much does the saucer weigh?   Or a man owned 11 cars .   When

he  died  he asked that his 11 cars be divided  among  his  three

sons.  Half of the cars were to go to the eldest son, a fourth to

the  middle son,  and a sixth to the youngest.   How can this  be

done?
One of the best teaching aids for beginners in math is  card

games.  Not only are they educational but they provide many hours

of pleasant interaction.   Card games help build language,  motor

skills,  social  skills,  visual  memory  ,  numerical  sequence,

computation and number concept.   I will name just a few that you

may have forgotten.   Slap Jack,  Spit, Casino, Black Jack, Fish,

Hearts, War, Concentration, Indian Poker, and Rummy.

One   card   game   I   enjoy is   called   “The   Earl   of

Coventry”. Children from five to twelve enjoy playing it.  All of

the cards are dealt out.   The first player plays any card.  Each

player must play a card of the same denomination or pass.  As the

first   player   plays   his   card,    he   says,   “Here’s    a

“_________”(naming  the card) as good as can be.” The next player

says,  “Here’s another as good as he” The third says, “Here’s the

best of all the three” And the last says, “And here’s the Earl of

Coventry. The player who plays the fourth card takes in the cards

and leads the next card beginning the rhyme again.   You can make

up  your  own rhyme.  For example:  “I’m giving you  my  favorite

three.”   “Here’s another for you from me” “Here is mine  as  you

can see” “And here’s the Earl of Coventry.”
There  are  many books available to make learning fun and  a

family  affair.   The books by Martin Gardner are good  and  your

librarian  can help you with other titles.   The book for the use

of playing cards in teaching and learning is by Margie Golick and

is entitled,  “Deal Me In.”
I   encourage  you  to try  these  and  other creative  ways

to  interact  with  your children this summer.    Keep  in  mind,

however, that some of the best times are just quiet moments  with

your children.  Relax and enjoy them and your summer.

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