While some parents find shopping with their children in tow a difficult experience, perhaps taking them along for the weekly grocery trip could be a clever way to help strengthen their basic, everyday mathematics skills.
It may seem like an unusual approach on face value, however upon reflection there are clearly many maths skills you can practice before, during and after a shopping excursion.
Before heading out the door, you can sit down with your primary school-aged children and ask them to think about what you need for the week, make a list and talk about the approximate cost of each item.
When you arrive at your favourite supermarket, it is a great idea to head straight to the fresh fruit and vegetables area. Most of the large ones offer a free piece of fruit for kids.
Next, tell your children how many grams or kilograms you would like of a particular fruit or veg and get them to estimate how many pieces they believe it will take to get to the right weight.
Encourage them to hold different fruit and vegetables that weigh around the same amount – perhaps an apple and a pear or an onion and a potato – then head to the scale to weigh them.
Another idea is to ask your child to look at the fine print cost when selecting different products. If you are buying tinned tomatoes, for example, while it is easy to just grab and go, suggest to your child that they read the unit pricing label. Unit pricing is a labelling system that helps you to compare prices and find the best value for money when buying groceries. Explain the method to your child by following these steps:
- Find the product you need.
- Check its unit price.
- Compare that unit price with the unit price of the same or a similar product in a different brand or pack size to see which is cheaper.
The largest package, special deals or home brand items may not be the cheapest option. Sometimes fresh produce can be the best value, but at other times, canned or frozen may be cheaper.
If your child helps you find the best value item on the day you shop, it can be a mini maths celebration moment!
It can be particularly helpful to let your child inspect your shopping trolley before finalising your purchase. Ask them to estimate the cost of the items, based on your discussion prior to shopping, and also guess how many bags you will need to carry the items.
Shopping for groceries allows you to help your child practice addition and subtraction, as well as comparison. It also can help them hone their multiplication skills. While it may be difficult for kids in the younger grades, you can ask the older child to tell you how much three bags of flour will cost if they are $1.20 each.
Typically, due to COVID-19, most of us ‘tap and go’ our credit card to pay. If it is at all possible, ask your child to pay in cash and coins, encouraging them to select the right denominations from your purse or wallet.
At ORIGO Education, it is our aim to making maths fun, meaningful and enjoyable for all. James Burnett, who is the co-founder and executive chairperson of ORIGO Education, believes firmly in a conceptual approach to mathematics. He said this approach influenced a greater understanding of maths and prepares students for a world where they have the skills and confidence to contribute to society as problem solvers, thinkers, and innovators.