Using Online Math Games for Kindergarten Through 3rd Grade to Improve Proficiency
It’s not often that your grade-schooler will run into your arms after school raving about his love of math.
Interactive Web Tools Make Learning Fun
Welcome Challenge or Dreaded Chore?
It’s not often that your grade-schooler will run into your arms after school raving about his love of math. It’s all too common, on the other hand, that subjects such as reading, art and music, get all the glory while math, starring in the Wicked Step-Sister role, gets a grimace and a wrinkled brow – usually from you.
There are many math-phobic parents who dread the transition from “2+2=4” to geometry, algebra and fractions. Some people manage to wing it and make it through while weathering a few crying fits from their children and a couple of extra gray hairs for themselves. Others try private tutors if they can afford it or if that’s too expensive, they seek out one of the many services which have popped up around the country that offer extracurricular math programs, classes and group tutoring.
But what if those options don’t prove to be effective? When a child is sitting with a tutor or with a group if kids in a math help-center, even though the group is small, it might not make much of a difference in their interest level or ability to commit to the necessary focus. In fact, because the emphasis is more on the individual in these help-center situations, it may intensify the anxiety that the child feels when they're having trouble solving math problems.
The other side of the coin is the child who seems to have an affinity for math and views it as an intellectually stimulating challenge. That’s a great start, but what if the curriculum taught by the school isn’t offering enough academic engagement to capitalize on that interest and fails to encourage further exploration?
Computer Games Can Help Kids Learn
Where to Go When You Realize You Need More Help
In previous generations, there weren’t many alternatives besides the previously mentioned private tutors and some sort of homework clubs. Luckily, huge advances in technology over the last 20-30 years have leveled the playing field tremendously when it comes to helping kids not only keep up with their peers in math development, but also to encourage them to enjoy the process of learning mathematical principals.
Over the past several years, there’s been a rise in the availability of online math games for kids. When used as a regular supplement to other types of math support, these games are incredibly useful for reinforcing core math skills that previously may have seemed unattainable or boring to kids. By adding an element of fun and interactivity, online math games for kids offer what a traditional classroom setting can’t: play-based learning.
What Role You Can Play in Increasing Your Child’s Math Proficiency
Some people lump all of the online math games for kids into the same boat as other computer or video-based games, but as with most things it really is a matter of taking time to assess quality before making judgment. It’s true that some sites have learning games as merely window dressing to offer a variety of un-related products and services to unsuspecting parents. There are many more, however, that can truly be an important component of your child’s successful development in mathematics. Some things you can do to determine whether a particular website or software is effective for teaching math skills to your children:
- Check to see whether the games offer opportunities to advance to more difficult levels as the child’s skills improve.
- Play the games with your child or on your own to determine the ease of use and site navigation.
- Watch out for too many Ad placements or commercials. A few dormant text or graphic Ads on a site’s sidebars is okay, but automatic video players or excessive pop up Ads are too distracting for a child to become truly engaged and focused on the learning process.
- Get teacher recommendations. Many elementary schools use online math games for kindergarten students and up to third grade to help teachers reinforce the classroom math curriculum. Teachers are an excellent resource to help determine appropriate sites and games for your child’s age and level of math proficiency.
Gain Doesn’t Have to Mean All Pain
Ultimately, it’s important to help your child recognize that, while learning math can be a challenging experience, it can also be fun and engaging. By combining core math concepts with dynamics such as a reward system, achievement levels, interactivity and adaptive learning, online math games create an environment where the development happens almost invisibly while children are doing something enjoyable and mentally stimulating. And that element is one of the most integrative and natural learning situations any parent or teacher could ever hope for.
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