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.

The heart shape is fantastically useful for teaching all sorts of mathematical problems, including geometry. Have your child cut out a heart shape from paper and use it to help them understand symmetry. How many lines of symmetry does a Heart Have? Help kids learn about patterns by using colored hearts or a series of Valentine's Day pictures. Introduce them to simple patterns; for instance red heart, green heart, red heart. From here you can make the patterns more complex by making them longer or including a higher degree of variation. Valentine's Day is a perfect opportunity for educating your child about many math problems; from simple arithmetic and word problems to patterning and geometry. There are many ideas to choose from that you're sure to find engaging and rewarding for both you and your child. So give them a try next Valentine's Day and see if your child will be struck by Cupid's arrow and feel the love for math.

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