6 Reasons Why Math Is Important
While some kids fuss about doing math lessons and practice, you as an adult know it’s essential. In fact, many math functions are life skills that you use almost daily, sometimes without even thinking about it. Balancing a checkbook, being on time, leaving tips, comparing prices while grocery shopping—these activities all require basic math knowledge. It’s inescapable!
You can help improve your student’s attitude toward math by emphasizing the real-world usefulness and versatility of addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and other calculations. The following six reasons are great examples of why math matters.
1. Leaving tips
When you eat at a full-service restaurant, it’s customary and common courtesy to leave a good tip for your waiter or waitress. Servers rely on tips, which often make up the bulk of their income. Being able to calculate a 15%–20% gratuity takes basic division and subtraction skills. Next time you enjoy a meal at a restaurant, try asking your child to figure out the tip!
2. Paying bills
Paying bills is one of those unfortunate necessities of adulthood. Most of us will probably be car owners and/or homeowners one day, and there are all types of insurance to go with that—auto, homeowners (or renters), health, life, etc. And all of these bills are multiplied when you start a family. Plus, let’s not forget about the many other regular bills, such as gas, electric, water, Internet, cell phone, and cable. You need math to figure out payments, to come up with a payment schedule, and to deduct what you pay from your bank account. Ask an older child to help you pay bills—it’s a valuable life skill.
3. Managing money
Bank accounts, 401(k) plans, budgeting, credit cards, interest rates—you need math to understand all of these concepts. How will you know if that deal you’re being offered is actually a good deal? How much will your monthly payments have to be if you want that credit card paid off before the promotional 0% APR ends? Making wise financial decisions requires a solid foundation in math. Talk to your children about these complex issues before they leave the nest, so they’ll be prepared to handle these challenges on their own.
4. Making better lifestyle choices
With basic math skills, you can calculate the number of calories in a serving of cheesecake and figure out how much exercise it would take to burn those calories. Or you can learn the amount of sugar in a can of soda, and compare that to the recommended amount we’re supposed to consume in a day. With math, you can also determine if it’s actually worth it to speed that extra five miles an hour on your way to work. In many cases, you’d have to drive at least 30 miles to shave just one minute off your time. Worth the more dangerous driving or the cost of a traffic ticket? Probably not. These topics can make for lively dinnertime conversations!
5. Baking and cooking
Many people enjoy creating tasty treats in the kitchen, but has it ever occurred to you that cooking requires math? Measuring amounts, calculating ratios of ingredients, and doubling or tripling the batch—it’s all math! To avoid unpalatable results, you need to understand the difference between a cup and a tablespoon.
Next time you host a big family gathering, remind your student that the recipe instructs you to calculate the cooking time—for example, 12 minutes per pound. Correctly multiplying the minutes by the number of pounds will ensure a juicy turkey or ham—while getting it wrong could ruin your dinner!
6. Achieving successful careers
Numbers are necessary for almost every job you can think of. Whether you’re a broker, a CEO, a doctor, a small business owner, or a construction worker, math is certain to be part of the equation at some point.
Animators, for instance, use linear algebra to predict how an object will rotate, move, and shift sizes. Fashion designers need to understand proportions; calculate area, perimeter, and diameter; and estimate the amount of fabric needed and its cost. And architects use math to determine the amount of space needed for building features, to make scale drawings, and to analyze and calculate structural problems in order to engineer a safe, stable building. Be sure to share examples from your career!
So whatever your child’s dream career may be, help build a strong foundation in math by practicing math activities every day.
How have you demonstrated the importance of math to your students? Share your best examples and ideas for math practice in the comments.