Math can often seem like gibberish to kids who have math anxiety. To those children, seeing numbers and symbols on a page means very little. When teaching math, it’s important to give children a basis in reality, something familiar to which they can tie their math concepts. Here are just a few examples of ways you can teach your child using math in sports.

Use Football for Teaching Fractions

Sports make a great introduction to fractions. A football game has four equal parts. Each part is a quarter. After two quarters, it’s halftime. Two quarters make a half. You can also find fractions on the field. About what fraction of a football field does the end zone take up? Combine fractions and measurement skills to find the answer.

Teach the Difference Between Mean, Median, and Mode through Hockey

A clever example on the Public Library of Science (PLOS) site uses hockey to illustrate the difference between mean, median, and mode.

In a set of data representing the number of goals scored by a player, we see a vast difference in mean, median, and mode. The mode of the data is zero because most hockey players score zero goals. However, the mean and median (7.5 and 4 goals) trend upwards because there are some players who have scored up to 50 goals in their career. This data forms a very easy-to-understand example of skewed data and can help students better understand the importance of the differences between mean, median, and mode.

Free Throws in Basketball to Teach Probability

Sports statistics determine the probability of a player’s success. If you want to know who’s the best at something, just look at their stats. NBA free throw percentages show how often a player makes a free throw. A higher percent means more accuracy. However, you need a larger sample size (translation: a player needs to take many shots) before the percentage accurately predicts their performance. This demonstrates a very important concept in statistics.

Finding the percentages of shots taken and shots made is a great exercise to practice division and converting between fractions, decimals, and percentages. If your students are baseball fans, batting averages provide similar statistics.

The Geometry Behind Balls Used in Various Sports

Besides the bounty of shapes that are found on a field or court, geometry presents itself in sports through the launching of projectiles. A great example is a bounced ball. In tennis, the players try to hit the ball at a low angle, barely going over the net, because it gets the ball to the ground faster and makes it harder to return. Try measuring the perfect angle to get the ball over the net from a certain height and distance away on the court.

In Short

Teaching children math through real-life applications like this is a great way to make the concepts stick. However, making sure your children are taught math in a creative way that fits their needs can be difficult in a traditional school system. Try using K12 to find an online public or private school that you can work with.

For math support, you might also consider LearnBop for your child. A highly adaptive online math program for grades 4–12, LearnBop simulates one-to-one learning by providing immediate individualized instruction to the child’s needs. With step-by-step guidance from award-winning experts built into every problem, LearnBop adapts in real time to student interactions and breaks down larger math problems into smaller, more manageable steps so they can develop critical-thinking and problem-solving skills. Schools have been using LearnBop for several years with great success, and now this personalized program will be available to students outside of the classroom. View the website for more details.

This post was updated on March 16, 2016

Image via Flickr by woodleywonderworks

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