Magazine article Work & Family Life

Teaching Kids to Take a 'Good Guess'

Magazine article Work & Family Life

Teaching Kids to Take a 'Good Guess'

Article excerpt

How many passengers can be transported in a day on New York City subway trains? How tall is a ten-story building? How many barrels of oil does the U.S. import each year? Most of us Google the answers to questions like these, but that may not be the best approach - especially for the parents of school- age children.

Researchers who have studied the science of learning describe "estimation" as the essential foundation for more advanced math skills. The ability to make a good guess is important for the abstract reasoning students need to do in order to get good grades in school and, later on, jobs in a knowledgebased economy. Estimation can also sharpen one's ability to use logic.

Of course, we all know how to "guesstimate." We do it all the time. And parents can foster a child's guessing skills in many ways. For example, you might ask your child to predict how many M&Ms there are in a package or how many different cereals there are on the shelves at the supermarket.

Another way is to play board games. Flicking a spinner, rolling dice and counting out spaces to move forward can help kids "adjust the number line that they carry around in their heads," says Sharon Griffin, a professor of education at Clark University. …

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