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Speak Like a Mathematician to Your Child

by Shannah Balogh, Learning Specialist

“Fractions are your friends!” I can still to this day remember my 3rd Grade teacher Mrs. Lynch saying this phrase and me thinking she was crazy. Fractions hardly felt like friends to me then. As an adult I look at kids who hear the word and can see them have similar thoughts to mine.

For the past month, students at Country School have been studying fractions across the grade levels. While they might be able to manipulate the algorithms, how well can they verbalize, recognize and feel comfortable with these numbers is really up to how frequently they are presented with them. 

Bring fractions to your kids’ attention whenever possible

  • Shoe shopping: “You are now the MIXED number, size 4 ½.”
  • Doctors’ appointments: “Look, you have grown to 46 inches; that’s 46/12 or almost 4 feet tall!”
  • Eggs in the fridge: “We have already eaten 4 out of 12 eggs this week; that means we have 8 out of 12 left!”
  • Number of snacks left in the cupboards: “You’ve eaten 4 out of the 5 Clif bars.”
  • Cars in a parking lot: “I see that 7 out of the 10 cars are blue.”

So much difficulty in math stems from the language: denominators, numerators, mixed numbers, improper fractions. If boys and girls speak these words in other parts of their daily living, the concept of fractions won’t seem so daunting to them.  

With that said, I give you this challenge: speak like a mathematician in your home. Look for opportunities to use these words. It will help strengthen your children's vocabulary and their understanding of fractions.