# Teaching kids to apply their mathematics knowledge to real world situations

How many times have you explained a mathematics concept to your child, only to have them ask, “When am I ever going to need this?” Here’s how you can help them apply their new skills to real world situations.

We all love to learn, but usually we need to understand how the knowledge we’re about to learn will be useful to us. It’s no different for young children – once they realise how the knowledge they’re learning can be applied to real situations they see in the world, they’ll become more eager to listen, ask questions, and look out for more opportunities to show you how well they’ve grasped the key concepts.

Here are a handful of ways you can do this at home:

1. Implement school lessons at home

For example, if your child is learning about different temperatures at school, ask them to help you check the temperature at home and outside. You can start off by asking them if they think it’s hot, cold or warm, and to predict the temperature in Fahrenheit or Celsius. Then, you can consult the thermometer together to see how close your predictions were.

2. Create a simple budget

Sit down with your child and plan a household budget for the month. Subtract regular expenses such as rent, bills and car payments, and encourage your child to try and come up with as much money as possible to remain leftover after expenses.

3. Go shopping together

Plan a family shopping day and prepare a shopping list together. Ask your child to help you pick out items from the list and cross them off as you go. Ask them to stay within a set budget and to estimate the amount of the overall purchase while shopping. This activity helps them incorporate several mathematics skills at once, such as budgeting, subtraction, addition and estimation.

4. Cook together

Following a recipe is a great (and delicious!) way to practice fractions and measurements. Show your child different measuring tools in the kitchen and talk about the concept of fractions, such as explaining how two ½ cups make one whole cup. After all the ingredients are assembled – guess how many servings it will produce.

5. Host fun competitions

How many cookies are in the cookie jar? How many minutes will it take to wash up all the dishes? What is the average weight of this week’s shopping bags? Almost everything can be turned into a fun mathematics game – and by keeping up the fun, the learning is sure to come!

Mathseeds is the fun online maths program for ages 3-6. Children work through a sequence of interactive lessons and enjoy collecting exciting rewards, watching colourful animations and enjoying great songs throughout the program.

Visit www.mathseeds.com for your free 14-day trial of Mathseeds and let your child experience the fun way of learning early mathematics.

# The Importance of Reading for Kids in Hospital

How can reading provide benefits to children facing lengthy hospital stays? Our friends from the Association for the Wellbeing of Children in Healthcare provide some important tips on how parents can best prepare their children and make the experience a lot less scary.

Many years ago in a major children’s hospital, Harry, a wonderful volunteer, would come in after lunch each day and do his rounds reading to the children in the different wards of the hospital. The children would always check to see if Harry was coming in each day, and disappointed little faces would abound if he ever missed his rounds.

Reading is one of those activities that can help to normalise an experience that can be anything but normal. Unfamiliar sights, sounds and smells, lots of different people and new routines to get used to can be a very stressful time for both parents and children.

Reading is known to reduce stress and have a calming effect. If you are unable to be with your child at any time, you can ask the hospital volunteer service if there is someone who can read to your child in your absence. If you are lucky to be in a hospital that has the AWCH Ward Grandparent Scheme, a caring volunteer can make a real difference to the emotional side of healing.

To prepare in advance to avoid feeling stressed, you and your child can take part in a tour of the hospital, and even encourage play about hospitals to help your child express their feelings and feel more in control.

For very young children, you might read to them Maisy Goes to Hospital or Jessica’s Xray, which is a great book for children and families to read and familiarise themselves with what an x-ray does and when it is used.

Choose books with photos or illustrations, coupled with helpful text to introduce children to the hospital environment, the role of health professionals, hospital equipment and procedures. Your child will gain greater familiarisation with the journey to come, which can really help to reduce their fear.

And remember, your child will also enjoy being read to from books that have nothing to do with hospital at all! These books act as a great diversion from the hospital experience. Books that children are familiar with and love will help connect your child to home and normal routine. Younger children will value the comfort of reading with a caring adult and books can be used as a starting point for conversations that relieve boredom.

And of course as a parent, you will want to be well informed about what to expect. Whether it is about childhood hospitalisation or chronic illness, make sure to find a helpful book to guide you. An excellent book for understanding an experience of hospital is Help! My Child’s in Hospital: A parent’s survival guide. For chronic illness, Extreme parenting: parenting your child with a chronic illness identifies areas of common concern to families and develops an approach that will encourage children to develop and lead a full life.

Health professionals have recognised that investing in the early years of a child’s life will bring lifelong benefits

We don’t immediately think of health professionals as being interested in children’s education and reading, but the research tells us the quality of the experience for children in early childhood can predict their future health, development and happiness.

In South Australia for example Professor Victor Nossar, AWCH Ambassador, headed the Every Chance for Every Child program as an important support for children’s development. This program considers reading and associated activities so important that it has given the program a goal to ‘increase the number of parents who sing, speak, or read to their children in an encouraging and positive way (0-5 years old), by 10% by December 2013.’

We are sure that you have plenty of your own children’s books, but if you need more specialised books about children and hospitals then contact AWCH and we will be only too happy to help you.

By Anne Cutler, AWCH Program Manager and Jillian Rattray, AWCH Librarian.

The Association for the Wellbeing of Children in Healthcare (AWCH) is a non-profit organisation of parents, professionals and community members who work together to ensure the emotional and social needs of children, adolescents and their families are recognised and met within hospitals and the health care system in Australia.

# 5 Ways to Teach your Kids to Tell the Time

Learning to tell the time can be tricky and frustrating for young kids, but parents can play a big role in making the experience a lot more fun and engaging.

Children learn to read the time from early on in school, but parents can play a big role in encouraging them to apply their knowledge in a fun and supportive home environment. Try these activities to get your kids telling the time … in no time!

1. Practice counting to 60

Before you try to teach your child the minutes in an hour, make sure they can comfortably count to 60. By taking this early step, you will ensure that they learn with confidence and ease, without growing frustrated early on and losing motivation.

2. Invest in a good-sized clock

What could be worse than learning to read the time while squinting at a tiny wristwatch? There are so many affordable, fun and child-themed clocks on the market, to make the whole learning experience much easier. A clock without a glass or plastic cover is ideal, so you can easily manoeuvre the hands.

Once your child has developed more confidence, you can then bring in a digital clock, and get them to match the digital time with the analog by moving the clock hands.

3. Get creative!

Cut out a circular piece of paper (or use a paper plate) and fold it into four equal sections. Teach your child how to draw the face of a clock on the paper, using the creases you’ve made as a helpful guide. Your child can even create ‘pie slices’ by drawing a line from the centre of the clock outwards to piece off each ‘hour’, and then colouring each pie slice differently. Use a pencil to act as clock hands, and use the pie slices by explaining that anything within a certain slice is _ o’clock (e.g. the first red slice is 1 o’clock, the second orange slice is 2 o’clock etc.)

4. Practice counting by 5’s

This helps with one of the trickiest parts in learning to tell the time; associating the hour ‘number’ with the minutes (e.g. if the little hand points to the number 8, this indicates 40 minutes). Practice counting by 5’s together, until they can do it fairly quickly without pausing. Then try pointing to numbers at random on the clock, until your child can quickly figure out the minutes that correspond with the number. Mathseeds Level 77 lesson teaches kids to count by 5s in a fun and interactive way.

5. Count down to an exciting event

It can be anything from New Year’s Eve, your child’s birthday or reaching your destination after a long road trip. You can prepare a bag of delicious treats and share them around each time your child reads an hour passing.

Mathseeds is the fun online maths program for ages 3-6. Children work through a sequence of interactive lessons and enjoy collecting exciting rewards, watching colourful animations and enjoying great songs throughout the program.

Visit www.mathseeds.com for your free 14-day trial of Mathseeds and let your child experience the fun way of learning early mathematics.

# 5 Tips to Encourage Independent Reading

Independent reading is the end product of all the skills your child has learned from your regular reading sessions together. It may be daunting at first, but it is the best practice they can get to become fluent, confident readers.

Try the following to help motivate your child to read on their own:

• Let them choose – your child will be so much more motivated to read on their own if they choose books that they’re interested in.
• Set reading goals – give your child something to work towards, for example, they can aim to finish a book before the end of the week, or learn five new words from a book they are reading.
• Regular reading time – designate a special time after school when your child can read without being disturbed. Setting a regular time will help them get into the habit of reading regularly, and it will soon become a part of their normal daily routine.
• Be on hand to help – make sure you’re around if your child has any questions about words they can’t read or don’t know the meaning of. If they are having trouble with a word or sentence, try and give them hints to see if they can work it out themselves, instead of simply giving them the answer.
• Let them tell you all about it – like most people, when you finish a book you want to tell people about it and share your thoughts. Discuss your child’s book with them and ask them questions that will help their comprehension, like ‘Who were the main characters?’ ‘What did you think when…’. ‘What was your favourite part?’

# 5 Fun Ways to Remember Spelling

Remembering how to spell certain words is so much easier when you’re having fun. Try some of these fun activities to improve your child’s spelling:

• Rainbow Letters – give your child three or four crayons and ask them to write a word over and over again in each colour, layering the colours one on the other to create a rainbow.
• Telephone – to play this game you will need to make a string/fishing line telephone with cans, or you can just use one of those cardboard tubes that come with wrapping paper. It’s pretty simple, just whisper words and their spelling to each other through your telephone!
• Sand Box – writing words in sand can help your child remember their spelling. If you don’t have a sand pit in the back yard you can always place sand in some kind of shallow storage device, or better yet, go to the beach!
• Shaving Cream – this could get messy, but it’s also a lot of fun. Spray a layer of shaving cream on a flat surface and allow your child to write their words in the shaving cream.
• Fridge Magnets – say the words and have your child spell them on the fridge – a nice activity to take your mind off the dishwashing!

Remember, if your child has difficulty spelling a word, make sure you always praise them if they spell part of the word correctly, and try and suggest what else is needed instead of just giving them the answer. For example, if they have written part of the word, you might say; ‘You have three of the five letters right. One of the letters should be doubled. Can you tell me which one it should be?’