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  • Mary Bailey

Learning Life Math Skills with Board Games

I shared in a previous post, that math is Chase’s least favorite subject, and the one that causes him the most stress. And when the stress kicks in, the learning just completely stops for him. I know that he, like most us, will not be another mathematics genius like Pythagoras, Descartes, Newton, or Einstein, which is perfectly fine with me. However, in order for him to function day to day as a responsible and self- sufficient individual, I know that he must become proficient, and is capable of learning, basic life math skills that we all use throughout the day, every day of our lives. I have also mentioned before, that life activities such as grocery shopping, traveling, banking, and cooking provide endless and invaluable opportunities for him to sharpen his awareness, reasoning, and math skills. But I still wanted to find a way to have “in class” assignments and activities that would provide him with the practice required outside of the real life situations. The tricky part was coming up with assignments and activities that didn’t look or feel like drills and tests. And the math tricks and games that I was finding, do not compliment how his brain works.

Then I remembered board games! I went back-to-basics and back to my roots, and got the Payday and Monopoly games. Chase has never been into board games, but as fortune would have it, he has become an enthusiastic player of these particular games. He’s genuinely having fun, learning, and gaining a sense of accomplishment. Worksheets with step-by-step word problems are made up to correspond with the kinds of concepts and skills that he is using in the games. Because he has been immersed in the activities of the games (a positive experience, with all senses engaged in context), the games serve as triggers and reference points when he’s doing the worksheets. The words and mathematics of the problems on the worksheets are able to make sense of themselves in his mind, and he is then able to approach the problem with a solid sense of familiarity and without feeling intimidated or stressed out.

Some of the life math skills learned and practiced in the games, are as follows:

  • Managing a paycheck.

  • Keeping track of your cash

  • Keeping track of expenses and making a budget

  • Handling financial emergencies and setbacks (loans, savings accounts, emergency funds, etc.)

  • Making loan payments

  • Making financial transactions

  • Negotiating

  • Basic Investing

Almost two years ago, Chase featured The Game of Life App as one of his favorite games under his Check-It-Out posts. At the time, he shared that, “it makes me dream about my future.” Now that he is older, we can include it among the board games that are used during his math lessons to teach him how to manage the future that he dreams about.

If you have a child that struggles with math, and haven’t found an alternative way of helping them find success, I suggest you give this method a try.

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