Your guide to parenting in Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts

When you're ready to replace your flooring, get your kids in on the act because it's absolutely true: You can teach your children a wealth of unexpected knowledge through this surprisingly comprehensive home improvement project.

Indeed, math is just the beginning of the educational subjects you can cover when selecting the covering for your floors. For a bit more on the learning process you and your kids can go through where flooring is concerned, consider the following.

**Methodical Materials**

Whether hardwoods, tile, laminate or carpet is your material of choice, there are tons of ways to work in teachable opportunities throughout the selection, ordering and installation process of replacing your flooring.

*Show and Tell*

The first most obvious skill you can impart through flooring is the ability to read a tape measure. Not only can you teach your kids about the various overall measurements (inch, foot, yard, etc.) and all of the corresponding subparts (1/16, 1/8, Â¼, Â½, 5/8, 3/4, etc.) but you can take the lesson from concept to reality.

In other words, on top of being to explain elusive theories of measurement increments, you can show them what they look like by pointing out all of the little tiny marks on the tape measure.

This is perhaps the most powerful teaching tool in the flooring teachability tool bag: Showing as well as telling. Children learn by doing and if you can explain a concept to them while putting something tangible in their hands, it is much easier for them to compute and understand the notion.

Once you've covered the basics of a tape measure, it's time to put the knowledge into practice in an even deeper way!

*Mini Mathletes*

In the realm of math alone, flooring can help teach:

**Simple Addition:**Â Sometimes a room's length or width exceeds the measurements available on your tape measure and you need to add up several numbers to get the final tally.**Geometry:**Â You rarely have a room that is perfectly square (but even if you do, squares are a part of geometry!) so breaking down the room into different shapes to get an accurate measurement for the total flooring can help kids visualize how different shapes fit together to make a whole.**Area:**Â Teach kids how to compute the total area of a given space by measuring out the length and the width of a room and multiplying them together. And yes, that means flooring helps with multiplication!**Square Footage:**Â Taking the area concept one step further, the area you are trying to find for flooring is the square footage so you simply multiply the length times the width of the space to get the number of square feet of materials for the space you need to cover.- If the room you want to tile is 12 ft. long and 12 ft. wide, you need 144 square feet of tile!
- If each tile you want to use measures 12" x 12" that means each tile will cover 1 square foot of the floor and therefore, you will need 144 individual tiles!

**Square Yardage:**Â Because a square yard is 1 yd. x 1 yd. and each of those yards converts back to 3 feet, you can break down a single square yard into 9 square feet (3 ft. x 3 ft.). Many types of flooring are sold by the square yard as opposed to the square foot so when that is the case, your kids can simply divide the square footage by 9 to get the square yardage.- If you want to install carpet in the room that measures 144 square feet, divide the square footage by 9, which means you will need to order 16 square yards of carpeting.

**Fractions:**Â Portions are a part of life — look at money (less than a dollar) and cooking (less than a cup), just to name two — and knowing how to accurately combine different portions in the form of fractions makes living in this life of 'less-thans' much easier!- In addition to the actual measurement fractions you will encounter (a wall measures 12 Â½ feet, for example), you can show your kids what fractionsÂ
*look*Â like by showing them the actual materials! Different types of flooring are different thicknesses (hardwoods could be either Â½" or Â¾" thick, just to name a couple of standard thicknesses) and different installations require different joint widths (floor tiles might be spaced 1/16 or 1/8 of an inch apart from each other to account for the grout).

- In addition to the actual measurement fractions you will encounter (a wall measures 12 Â½ feet, for example), you can show your kids what fractionsÂ

What are some of the other unexpected ways you can use flooring to teach kids valuable skills or concepts?

*Chris Long is a store associate at a Home Depot in the Chicago suburbs since 2000. Chris is a frequent contributor onÂ flooring for Home Depot's website. He provides advice to homeowners on hardwood flooring, tiles, laminate flooring, and other flooring options fromÂ Home Depot.*