Math CentralQuandaries & Queries


Question from Kathy, a teacher:

I am teaching a student who is on the life skills program and is at the stage 2 level for maths but is in year 9 (stage 3). I am looking for maths lessons that will help her in life. Like maths in shopping, maths in fashion, maths in the home etc. Your help in finding lesson plans is urgently needed.

Hi Kathy,

Math skills can be easily transferred to many different fields of study. Sometimes the biggest hindrance student have in learning math is not seeing its usefulness in everyday life. Here are some ideas for your student organized by "life skill":

Pattern making is a very important part of fashion. Each piece that must be sewn together needs a sem allowance -- so the ability to add fractions is very important. Your student could also study symmetry and asymmetry found in clothes.

Percent and decimal operations are very important when making purchases. Consumers deal with discounts from sales as well as the addition of tax. Any one who needs to stick to a budget for shopping, not only needs to know how perform calculations with percentages and decimals but often without the use of a calculator. The ability to estimate how much you are spending when shopping is essential to budgeting.

It is also important for students to learn the how much they are actually spending over time when they use a credit card to purchase items. They need to know about the difference between compound and simple interest and how the longer it takes someone to pay off a credit card purchase the more they are actually paying.

The most obvious example of math skills used in the home is following a recipe. Figuring out how to double or half a recipe is a perfect way to practice fraction skills.

Many jobs use math everyday. Have your student research the type of math skills used in occupations they are interested in. Your student will hopefully start to see the usefulness of these math skills.

I hope some of these ideas help. There are a lot of great lesson plans and web sites devoted to the real world applications of math.


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