We’ve all heard kids ask this question when they are learning math. They mistakenly think that if they are not interested in a STEM career the math they are learning isn’t useful. However, math is used in many careers such as cosmetology, construction, and the culinary arts to name a few.
As we go through our day performing different activities, we need to point out these moments to kids so they understand the reasons to learn and understand math concepts. Here are some examples:
Money - paying for items; budgeting for monthly expenses; savings and investments; buying a house or a car; comparing cell phone plans.
Data and Analysis - reading food labels; understanding statistics presented in the news about politics, health, education, crime rates in a neighborhood.
Estimation and Rounding - figuring out how much money is needed to buy an item or take a trip, the distance to travel somewhere, or how long it will take.
Fractions, Decimals, and Percentages - following recipes; calculating tips; figuring out the best deal among a number of products; discounting prices.
Probability - weather forecasts (chance it will rain or snow); sports statistics; winning the lottery; buying insurance; playing card games and games of chance.
Numbers and Number Processes - reading temperature; money and budgeting; planning how much food is needed for an event.
Time - scheduling; arriving on time; duration of trips; cooking; meeting deadlines.
Geometry and Measurement - reading maps; buying carpet, paint, or wallpaper; space planning; measuring furniture or appliances for a room; planting a garden.
So the next time your child asks, “Why do I have to know this?” discuss one or two of these examples. Better yet, get them involved when you perform one of these activities and show them how we use math every day.