Make Math “Hands On”
Helping your 2nd grader with math means helping him understand the meaning of mathematics concepts, not just the procedures of doing a written problem. Making math as "hands on" as possible is the best way to ensure that he will develop an understanding of concepts and number sense. To help your child really grasp the math that he needs to master, keep the learning simple, use real tools and everyday objects, and make it fun. Just call your learning activity a "game" and you can guarantee you will have your 2nd grader's attention!
Speak Positively About Math
Speak positively about math and reward effort rather than grades or ability. Think about how important reading is and how we are told to model this behavior for our children. We need to place math in the same category. Don't discount the importance of math by saying, "I'm not a math person, I was never good at math." Help your child read books that incorporate math, such as Millions of Cats, by Wanda Gag, or On Beyond a Million: An Amazing Math Journey, by David Schwartz.
Cement Addition and Subtraction Relationships
To help your child build number sense, have him take several small objects (beans, pennies, etc.) and count out a specific number., starting with a smaller number. Then take your hand (or a cup or small bowl) and quickly cover some of the objects. Ask: "How many are under my hand?" He should be able to figure it out by counting those remaining. So if there are 5 objects and you cover 3, your child should see the 2 remaining objects and determine that 3 are covered. Do a variety of different combinations of objects covered using the same number of items. Then try it with more items, up to twenty. Your child will get practice seeing the addition and subtraction relationships between numbers.
Use Food to Demonstrate Fractions
Your child is beginning to use unit fractions, like 1/8, 1/4 and 1/2 in 2nd grade. Cutting up sandwiches, fruit, or pastries into equal pieces and counting the fractional parts is one way to reinforce fraction identification.
Read Math Problems Out Loud
If your child is struggling with math problems, have him read each problem out loud slowly and carefully so he can hear the problem and think about what is being asked. This helps him break down the problem and come up with problem-solving strategies.
Use Real Money
Children become so accustomed to seeing adults pay with credit and debit cards that counting actual money can be an unfamiliar practice. Engage your child in the transaction of buying things at the store, allowing him to pay with cash and to count the change. This will help not only with his math skills but will foster an understanding of the concepts of saving and spending.
Combine Analog and Digital Clocks
To practice telling time, have your child draw an analog clock and a digital clock and put the same time on both. You want to help your child count time in 5-minute increments. Give your child a specific time on a clock and ask questions such as "What time was it two hours ago? What time will it be in a half hour?" Take a look at a calendar. Ask your child questions about the days and dates, such as "What day is the 5th of this month? How many Tuesdays are in the month? What date is the 3rd Friday of this month?"
Use Cooking to Explain Time
When cooking or baking, think about the time required for your recipe. Ask your child to help you figure out if a meatloaf takes about 45 minutes to bake and the vegetables you'll be having with it take 30 minutes to cook, how many more or fewer minutes than the meatloaf do the vegetables need? Which do you need to start cooking first?
Work on Sequencing and Patterns
You can build sequencing skills by asking your child to try to name his classmates in the order in which they sit in their classroom. Or have him outline the steps required to make a particular dish or meal. He can also put math information into patterns. Your child can learn the names of shapes with increasing numbers of sides by arranging sticks into a triangle, square, pentagon, hexagon, etc. in order and saying their names as he points to them.
Since children are most familiar with the fraction 1⁄2, as in "Can I have half a glass of milk," the unit is a strong base from which to start exploring fractions. Comparing half a glass of water to a whole glass, half a cookie to a whole cookie, half a book (opening it to the middle) to a whole book. Encourage your child to show you when he sees or hears fractions used in daily life.
Play Family Math Games
Plenty of family games incorporate math. Tic tac toe, Connect Four, and dominoes are just some of the many games that help build strategic thinking and math skills.