Algebra is a concept that many parents think that their children won’t be exposed to or master until late middle school or even into high school. However, this definitely does not have to be the case because algebra for elementary age children is not only important, it’s necessary to give them an early foundation. In this series you will learn about how you can work with your child at home through a variety of activities to help teach them algebraic concepts and even “real” algebra.
One of the starting points in learning algebra is being able to solve for a variable. For a home activity, you can start off using maniuplatives like cereal or small toys to solve for an expression (here is a cheat sheet of algebra expression terms). For example: 5 toy cars + ____ toy cars = 8 toy cars. This is the beginning of your child being able to solve the equation 5 + x = 8 (8 – 5 = 3). With the maniuplatives, they can then easily solve the problem that the answer is 3. The cognitive process will allow them to transfer the skills and eventually view the = sign as a relational term.
For upper-elementary aged children, you can modify this activity to include multiplication and division. Using the same idea of using manipulatives as counters you child can visualize and solve the problem 2x + 8 = 20. Start of by subtracting the constant from the answer.. Then they will subtract the answer from the constant (12). Then they will divide that answer by 2 to solve for x. In this problem, x = 6.
When introducing these beginning algebra concepts with your child, you do not even need to show them the expression written in math terms and can just focus on the manipulative to solve the problem.
What algebra skills have you taught or practiced with your elementary school age children at home? Check back later this week to learn more about how you can teach algebra at home through word problems. Remember, you can start algebra for elementary age children now!
Photo by: Photo by: Roland O’Daniel