# Math for Kids – Play your Way to Math

Isn’t it surprising that kids who claim to be ‘unable’ to learn math find it so easy to master cool math games online that require advanced strategy, logic and memorization skills? That’s because online (and offline) games involve play and play is one of the most natural and spontaneous ways through which kids learn. Play is a recreational and relaxing activity that allows your child to make sense of and practice everything he has learnt and knows. So how do you get your child to learn a ‘difficult’ subject like math and get him to love it as well? Through play, of course.

## 1. Homemade math puzzle for preschoolers

Use three empty glasses to create your very own math puzzle. Fill the first glass with water up to the brim, the second glass halfway and leave the third one empty. Ask your child to identify which glass is full, which is empty and which is only half-full. Your preschooler will immediately grasp the concepts of empty and full but is likely to struggle with the concept of half.

## 2. Grocery game for preschoolers

This is a painless way to introduce young kids to relatively advanced topics such as fractions, equations and the concept of zero. Give your child a few cups and containers and some figs or dried fruit. Ask your child to fill one cup to the brim, leave one empty and fill the third one with fewer figs than the full cup but more than the empty one. This will help to acquaint your child with some of the concepts and vocabulary associated with these topics.

## 3. Math toys for kids in elementary school

If your child goes to elementary school, he’s sure to love playing with toys that spark off his mathematical abilities. These include cash registers (real or made of cardboard) along with some play money, weighing scales and math manipulatives. These toys appeal to kids’ imaginations and elicit enthusiasm in a way that more conventional aids to learning math (such as drills and tests) usually do not.

As a parent, you have the power to influence the quality of your child’s play and other recreational activities. Your child can learn to love math if you provide the materials and encouragement he needs to take up new math-related activities and to play cool math games online. So, get started immediately and instill a love for math in your little ones.

# Games Help Kids Deal with Learning Disorders

It is never easy for parents to learn of their children’s learning disabilities. The news of their child being diagnosed with any kind of a learning related disorder can shatter the most spirited of parents and understandably so. As soon as one hears of something like this, the first reaction usually is – will my child be able to cope in school? While that line of thought is only the most natural progression, parents need to take a deep breath, calm their frayed nerves, and tell themselves – academic success is only a means to the goal, not the goal itself.

Every parent wants his child to lead a happy, satisfying, and enriching life. And a life like that can be had with or without academic success. Learning disorders are not insurmountable. Support, patience, understanding, encouragement, and companionship will go a long way to help children afflicted with learning disorders lead a fulfilling life.

### What are Learning Disorders?

‘Learning Disorders’ is a wide-spectrum term used to indicate a range of learning related problems that afflict kids in the developmental stages. Contrary to popular belief, a learning disability is not an indicator of a child’s diminished intelligence. A child with any kind of learning disability is not ‘dumb’ or ‘lazy.’ Studies reveal that kids with learning disorders often display very high IQ levels and thus, negate the theory. Kids with the disability happen to see, hear, and perceive things in a way that is a deviation from the regular and this affects how they receive as well as process information.

It isn’t unlikely for children to struggle with homework every once in a while. Some even complain of difficulty to go out and play. That in itself should not be a cause of concern. But if a particular area is consistently problematic, it is a good idea to take your child to a specialist for diagnosis.

## A Few Common Signs and Symptoms

### Signs in Preschoolers:

• Trouble pronouncing words
• Trouble handling pencils and crayons and coloring within lines
• Struggle with buttons, zippers

### Signs in Kids Up to 10 Years:

• Consistent misspellings
• Using different spellings for the same word in the same document
• Confusing similar words and other reading errors
• Difficulty learning sequences
• Difficulty in telling time
• Trouble following instruction

## A Few Common Types of Learning Disorders

Dyslexia – Difficulty with letter recognition, reading fluency, vocabulary skills, etc.

Dysgraphia – Difficulty with handwriting, copying accurately, spelling consistency, writing coherently, etc.

Dyscalculia – Difficulty memorizing and using operation signs, skip counting, etc.

Dysphasia – Difficulty understanding spoken language, etc.

Dyspraxia – Difficulty with balance, hand-eye-coordination, manual dexterity, etc.

## Dealing with Learning Disorders

As the parent, prepare yourself for the struggle ahead. Tests, bureaucracy and paperwork – they all lie ahead of you. Don’t let them faze you. Child rearing isn’t easy and you would have faced problems even with a child without learning disorders. Life is not about the obstacles; it is about how you tackle them!

Educate yourself about your child’s condition. Be up-to-date. Lap up everything that you can find on the ailment and build yourself up to be an expert on it. Find the necessary tools (such as games for kids available online that employ alternative methods of teaching). This way, you would not have to depend on the specialist or therapist at all times. You will be better prepared to deal with problems and difficulties as they arise.

Keep abreast of new technology and make friends with science, even if it has never been your area of expertise. There have been reports of online free games for kids being useful in dealing with a number of different learning disorders. Find out the ones that best suit the needs of your kid. Read all about the great strides made by science in understanding the functioning of the brain.

Don’t try to ‘cure’ your child. Back your child with unrelenting emotional support and empower him to find the confidence within to lead a life as regular and as fulfilling as possible.

While it is important to be consistent with the love, support and care, make sure not to overdo it. Though learning disorders pose problems other than the obvious, they are not debilitating. Never talk down to them and stifle them with well-meaning but out of place affection.

# Fun Ways to Practice Math

In elementary school, learning math facts is one of the most preoccupying concerns for many students and their parents and teachers. Fluency in math facts holds a lot of benefits for kids below fifth grade. Math facts are the foundation based on which all advanced math topics are introduced. Kids should ideally be fluent with basic addition and subtraction facts by second grade and with multiplication and division facts by fourth grade. However, kids experiencing difficulties learning math facts find it challenging to stay motivated enough to practice math for extended periods of time. Instead of driving yourself and your child crazy trying to master maddening math facts, try using one of these fun ways of practicing math:

## Practice Math with Fun Math Games

Fun math games give kids the motivation to learn math facts and the pressure to produce the right answers without threatening the child’s self-esteem.  Additionally, these absorbing games are very addictive, ensuring your child spends a long time each day practicing math. Here are some fun math games that you can try playing with your child to enhance fluency with math facts:

1.       Fun Math Card Game – Addition and Subtraction War

This game is similar to the classic card game ‘War’. A deck of cards is dealt out evenly to two players and kept face-down. Each player draws the top two cards from the deck and places them in the center facing up. The player with the higher sum takes all four cards and adds them to the bottom of the deck. In case of a draw, players enter a war. The war is played by placing two cards face-down on top of the tied cards and then placing two cards face-up above that. The player with the higher sum takes all 12 cards. At the end of the game, the player with the greater number of cards is the winner. Subtraction war is played in the same way, with players subtracting the smaller number from the greater number in each round.

2.        Fun Math Dice Game – It’s Dicey!

This fun math game with dice is to be played in pairs. Each player needs a sheet of paper, a pencil and a few round counters. Children write the numbers from 2 to 12 on the paper, leaving space between the numbers. Players then take turns rolling the dice and finding the sum of the numbers on the dice. The sum is covered by a counter on the sheet of paper. Once all the numbers are covered, the game ends. The first to finish all the numbers wins the game.

## Exercise Those Math Skills

Moving around is another great way to practice math facts. Unlike the fun math games, there are no strict rules for this method. It is based on the principle that children learn math facts better when they are being active at the same time. Have your kids learn a few math facts while playing with a jump rope or just dancing around. You can even create your own fun math games involving physical activity to get your kids trying this method out. Systematically focus on a few math facts each day to slowly learn an entire set.

## Learn Math through the Day

Do not wait for your child’s math practice hour to start practicing math lessons. Teach your child math through everyday situations like doubling a recipe or going grocery shopping. While fun math games work by creating motivation to practice math, this method works by giving students a context in which they can understand and relate to their math lessons. This is also essential for getting good at mathematics. Use a simple opportunity like snacking on goldfish to give your child practice working out simple math facts using concrete objects like the snack.

Use your creativity and presence of mind to come up with other fun ways of practicing math, and very soon your child will be solving math problems with the ease and expertise of a pro!

# Benefits of Sensory Play for Preschoolers

Think about it – since when has your preschooler been talking properly? How proficient is she in her language skills? For any average three-year-old preschooler, the answer to the first question will be anywhere between 6 months to a year. Considering your child has under one year’s experience only in using language as a tool, she might not be too proficient and skilled in it yet. Now, think about how long she has been using her senses. Since when has your baby been seeing, smelling, hearing, tasting, and feeling?

All her life!

Most experts believe children are wired to receive information through their sensory organs from very early infancy. This is the reason why you will find your preschooler going to feel a new object first before she talks about it. Much of the information received through their senses is likely to stay with them. Think about your oldest memories. More often than not, they are likely to revolve around a particular smell or tune that still holds the power to transport you back to those times.

## Fun Games for Kids Linked to Cognitive Development in Them

As it is with memories, so is it with learning. Children (and adults) retain the most information when they make use of their senses to learn. Studies reveal that sensory play helps build nerve connections in the brain’s pathways, which then helps kids learn complex things more easily. No wonder then, experts strongly advocate the use of sensory play in preschoolers. Consider the example of learning to play a musical instrument like the guitar. Unless one gets to feel the instrument, touch and strum the strings, and hear the music coming out, no amount of telling them how to play is likely to yield results. Sensory play, including many fun games for kids, gives them the opportunity to investigate and learn without any preconceived knowledge. Thus, it helps refine cognitive, linguistic, social, emotional, creative, and physical skills in preschoolers.

## Sensory Play Opens All Channels of Learning

Sensory play through fun games for kids has been found to be so effective because they open all channels of perceiving and taking in information. In other words, sensory play is that medium of teaching that triumphs hands-on experience over lecture. It is through fun games and other varied practices that children get to use their senses and engage in purposeful experiences.

While sensory play is beneficial for children of all ages as well as adults, it is most potent for preschoolers. Combine sensory experiences of your preschoolers with detailed talk on what they are observing and you are taking them one step closer to making language the tool to express what they feel and experience. Enhanced language skills also give the young ones the much needed confidence to further their social interactions. Thus, by helping preschoolers use language to express themselves as well as by boosting their confidence, sensory play helps build their linguistic, cognitive, social and emotional, and creative skill-sets.

## Fun Games for Kids and Other Sensory Play Ideas

When talking about sensory play, the first thing that usually pops up in mind is sensory table found in many preschool establishments. It, however, is not the only place for kids to have a sensory experience. Most fun games for kids are a great way for them to have a multi-sense experience. Even at home, activities can go a long way in helping kids achieve this. A few minutes of games and activities that allow kids to feel different textures, hear different sounds, smell varied smells, see multiple colors, etc., are all sensory experiences that will ultimately help your preschooler learn more than hours of classroom teaching can.

Whether it is an ice cube melting in their hands, water drying from their bodies, the smell of their lunch, the sounds of water dripping from a tap or fun games for kids like shaking colored rice in a can, making castles with sand, etc., find ways and means to maximize the time your preschoolers spend in exploring their senses and indulging in sensory play to encourage wholesome development in them.