Being Mindful About Math

Okay, it's not only students who look forward to school being over. Credit: Dale Neseman

Okay, it’s not only students who look forward to school being over. Credit: Dale Neseman

Math doesn’t end in class. Now we would probably have realized that at some point back when we were in school, and some kids may already have. But in general, how can we educators lead young learners today to think about math as not only another subject in school, but as second nature; i.e. part of life? We’ve shared enough pizzas, pies and cake while discussing fractions. We’ve drawn enough clock faces, we can’t think of them without Dali’s The Persistence of Memory flashing before our eyes. How else can we show our kids about being a little more mindful about the math around us?

Pizza, the main ingredient in any fractions class. Credit: Beartato Comics/ Nedroid

Pizza, the main ingredient in any fractions class. Credit: Beartato Comics/ Nedroid

Leadership is most authentic (and effective) when it’s done by example, so when you’re mindful about math in practice, so will your kids! Here are some ideas to share with your students and even use yourself. What you talk about with your kids in class can make a difference in what happens in their minds afterwards, and all the more if you speak from personal experience, so give them a try!

At the grocery store

Think of all the guessing contests that you’ve seen at carnivals, and bring that inspiration to the grocery store. Ask your students if they’ve ever tried estimating the value of all the items in their shopping cart before the cashier rings up their purchase. How far away were they the first time they tried? What was the closest they’ve ever got? Have they ever got it exactly right? P.S. Speaking from personal experience, this can help you get conscious about your spending the more you do it.

Hanging out with friends

What are some items that you share with your friends when you hang out together? Have your students talk about said items. It can be as simple as a pack of chewing gum, a large bottle of Pepsi or a large bag of potato chips. Based on the amount, get them to work out the average amount of how much each person would get. This can even apply to time, e.g. my friend and I play video games for three hours every Saturday, that’ll work out to an hour and a half per person every time. Four Saturdays a month make it six hours per month, and so on.

One day in your life

The ideas we’ve suggested so far have been about managing resources, usually money, but also time. Start by asking your class the first thing they do each day and how much time they spend doing it. The idea is that there are 24 hours in a day, and each person has a different breakdown to how their time is spent. This will not only get your students conscious about time and organization, but also how they can choose to use it. You can introduce your students to the idea of using a journal (à la Freedom Writers) to document how their day went.

So there you have it. When you’re conscious about doing the math of daily living, you’re increasing the probability of a student doing the same. (Saw what I did there?) Here’s to the increased odds of that happening!

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