Southwest Home Education Ministry

Math and Movement

-Crystal Wagner, Explore 2017 Convention Speaker

Many times I know that my daughters understand the math concept they have been learning. Through our discussions and hands-on practice, I know they have mastered the material. But as soon as I ask them to demonstrate that knowledge through written math problems, they falter. I see a deer-in-the-headlights look on their faces. They don’t know what to do.

For example, one day when my daughter was seven, we had just completed a math lesson, and based on our discussion, I knew she understood the concept. So I gave her a corresponding worksheet. And she shut down. She struggled to answer the problems. I could see her frustration building, so I took the worksheet from her and asked her to bounce on the mini trampoline while I read the problems to her. As she was bouncing, she was able to answer every single problem quickly and correctly. She needed to move while practicing the math facts.

As our story demonstrates, many children are able to understand mathematical concepts they are not yet ready to express on paper. Writing answers to math problems is more advanced than understanding the concept itself. Removing the worksheet and written math facts allows your child to focus on the concept without the added stress of writing the answer as well.

Benefits of incorporating
movement to practice math facts

Allows kinesthetic learners to focus

Many children, and especially kinesthetic learners, benefit from practicing math facts through movement. Instead of spending their energy translating a math concept into written notation, their brain is freed to focus on the answer.

Improves retention

Have you noticed that when you say a new phone number you are trying to memorize out loud repeatedly or sing the number to a little tune it is easier and faster to memorize it? The same is true for our children. We want them to master the math facts and truly understand them. Adding movement to their math facts practice helps them remember the facts better.

Adds variety

No one likes to repeat the same process day after day. Even manufacturing plants have tried to incorporate breaks and variety to break up the monotony so their workers remain safe. Adding variety to your child’s math facts practice increases his interest and willingness to complete the math lesson.

Ways to incorporate movement to practice math facts

There are many ways you could incorporate movement when practicing math facts, but it can be difficult to think of them in the middle of a math lesson. The following suggestions are simple ways to add movement to your child’s math facts practice. With each suggestion, you could create your own problems based on the concept your child is currently practicing or use problems from his current worksheet.

  • Write problems on the sidewalk or driveway with sidewalk chalk. Instruct him to say the answer aloud as he jumps on each problem.
  • Read a problem aloud to him. He can call out the answer as he bounces on a mini trampoline or dribbles a ball.
  • Use an exercise ball to incorporate large muscle movement. He could bounce the ball, balance on it, or bounce gently on the ball as he answers problems.
  • Practice skip counting while jumping rope.

Regardless of how you incorporate movement, remember to keep the sessions short (10-20 minutes for grades 1-3 and 20-30 minutes for grades 4-6).


Crystal Wagner and her husband, Jason, have two daughters whom they have home educated since 2010. Crystal believes it is important to create an atmosphere where children thrive, enabling them to fulfill their God-given potential. She writes articles and publishes resources that equip homeschool parents to foster such an atmosphere in their home. You can find out more about Crystal at www.TriumphantLearning.com.

 

Hear more from Crystal at convention. You can register here.

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