WFMW: Teaching math

Last September, GeekBoy declared he hated math. How to teach math to a kid who runs screaming in the other direction at the mere glance towards the workbook?

Open a House Bank.

Mad propz to Paul, a commenter at Mamalogues for this idea. But here is how we make this work in our family:

First, he only gets paid for work done around the house above and beyond his normal chores. Clean your room, good! You’re supposed to. Empty the dishwasher, great! Let’s go add that to your bank account.

He gets paid 5$ an hour, because as Paul said, that easily breaks down into $2.50 for 30 minutes, and $1.25 for 15. He’s only 7 years old, so he’s usually only good for about 15 minutes worth of work anyway. He gets paid 10% interest every first of the month because that’s easy for a little guy to compute. We use a template for Microsoft excel as his bank register. Mom keeps track on her computer while he writes it all in and computes the math. That little Mom keeping track bit, yea, that’s to keep him honest. He can’t add a whole of work that he didn’t do because Mom doesn’t have it on her computer. (Since Microsoft has a habit of changing their website frequently, go to, look for Downloads, Office Templates, something like that, then search for a Checkbook Register. But remember that Microsoft is picky, and only likes to let you download if you’re using Internet Explorer.)

It’s been great. GeekBoy has learned to add and subtract up to four digit numbers. He’s learned a little bit about multiplication, decimal places, dollars and cents, and percentages. He’s also learned a bit about money management and fiscal responsibility. No longer does he surf drooling over the latest AT-AT or Death Star, declaring that, “Daddy/Gramma will buy it for me if you won’t mom!” Now he looks, and says, “That’s ok. I don’t want it, I’m just looking.” He still has things that he desperately wants, like the Jedi Star Fighter with Hyperdrive Booster Ring. But at least he’s learning the value of earning his own money to buy things, as well as budgeting for what you really want. (Sure you have enough for that new 19.99 kit, but if you buy that now, it will be even longer before you can afford that 49.99$ Star fighter. “Oh. Ok. Never mind then. I want the Starfighter. Got a job for me?)


Check out Rocks in my Dryer for more Works for Me Wednesday tips.