Valentine's Day is a great opportunity to give your kids a fun and engaging math activity. There are a number of themed activities and math worksheets available through a quick Internet search. Here's how you can use these resources to give the kids a math lesson that they'll enjoy. You can create a number of other fun activities to bring out the inner_mathematician in a child. For example, if you want to teach kids about the basic ideas of volume and surface area, then Valentine's Day could really lend a hand. Fill three glass jars that differ in size with some heart_shaped candy. Ask the kids to estimate how many sweet treats they think each jar contains. The candy could also help children practice their ability to make tallies, data charts and graphs. Using heart_shaped candy of different colors, ask your child to tally how many of each color there are. You could even use one of the themed math worksheets to help. Once they have created a total for each color, ask your child to compile the totals into a bar chart. If you are feeling kind, then the candy can become a generous reward for the hard work that they've done.
I teach the upper grades in my school, yet I continue to see kids who do not even have basic algebra skills in place. As a parent, I'm very aware of what my own children are learning in school. For the most part, I've been happy with their progress, but as they rise in grade level, I'm starting to see more emphasis on a loose understanding of the concepts and less emphasis on skills__particularly skills with arithmetic of fractions. The main problem with what I see with my students and my own children is that kids are taught "concepts" and are not taught skills__unless they're lucky enough to have a teacher who knows better. Most particularly, children are not taught mastery of arithmetic with fractions. Unfortunately, virtually all of their future math education depends on being able to do fractional arithmetic.