By Deanna Hurn, Founder and Executive Director of Miracle Math Coaching

Though it sounds like a stretch, Math mastery and a trip to an amusement park like Six Flags Discovery Kingdom have more in common than you’d think.  And, no, it doesn’t have to do with calculating the speed of the Medusa roller coaster.  It does have to do with how you approach the experience.

Here are some “amusement park-related” advice for supplementing the Math your student is being taught in the classroom:

1.      Make it Fun.  Ask any child what’s the point of going to an amusement park, and the answer will always be “To have fun!”  Ask any child what’s the point of Math, and you’ll likely get a shrug or hear some variation of “To torture me” or “To bore me.”

For your students to do well in Math, you have to make it fun. Two ideas I’ve provided in past posts include:

Play Games – Cards, dominoes, bingo and dice are just of few of the games that require number crunching.  And, of course, there’s the old standby, Monopoly.  For younger kids, there’s Monopoly, Jr.

Go Grocery Shopping – Nutritionists say that 75 percent of food in your cart should be fruits and veggies.  A tall order, but have your child keep track of the percentage as you plow down the aisles. (Can’t get those cookies if they’re not balanced by lots of apples and bananas.)

1.      Pace Yourself.   Chances are your kids will want to do everything at once.  “Please, please, please can we ride the Frog Hopper, see the Lions, pet the giraffes, win a teddy bear, get some popcorn…”  If you don’t slow the pace, you and your child will be overwhelmed by acres of attractions, entertainment and wildlife.

And so it is with children and Math.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and fractions can’t be learned in an afternoon.  If your kids are having trouble with addition or multiplication, don’t overwhelm them with a stack of flashcards and an unreasonable time frame for mastering them.

Even if your instinct is to get them up-to-speed as quickly as possible, go slowly.  Learning just two or three equations a week or just one row on the multiplication over two weeks is far better than having a frustrated, ego-deflated child.  Nail the basics at his or her own pace.

1.      Enjoy the Memories.  Ok, learning Math doesn’t generate memories to enjoy.  Your children will always remember their amusement park adventure. Their pre-Algebra educational adventure?  Not so much.

But just like re-visiting crazy, fun cool times, it’s important to have your kids re-visit what they’ve learned.

Even as they’re learning new concepts, quiz them on what they’ve mastered in the past to make sure it sticks.  Nothing will make them feel better than knowing they’ve improved.

And, what if they haven’t improved? According to the experts, children who persevere when they don’t do well are far more successful in life than more accomplished kids who don’t put in as much effort in learning.  Let your students know that, and show how much you support them.