Help your child see that math isn’t just something done at school – it’s everywhere
Have Fun With Math
- Play games together, like computer games, card games, or board games. Talk about what makes games fun, what makes them hard, and which games your child would like to play again.
- Look for toys that encourage your child to build and create, like building blocks and construction toys.
- Cuddle up and read books together – talk about ideas in the stories related to numbers, space, time and money.
Talk About Math
- Ask questions that encourage your child to:
- Use math language, including words such as add, subtract, equal and the names of shapes.
- Explain his or her thinking: “Tell me how you know that” or “How did you get that answer?”
- Sequence and plan: “What are you going to do first? Next? Last?”
- Count: “How many buttons are on your shirt?”
- Compare: “Which leaf is biggest? Which leaf is smallest?”
- Use logical thinking: “There are four children coming to the party. How many treats do we need if each child gets two?”
- Describe the world: “What shape is the moon? The sun? This shell?”
Talk about your use of math as you show your child how it’s part of your day-to-day life. For example:
- Measure for baking, sewing and woodworking: “I need one cup of sugar. How many millilitres is that?”
- Estimate amounts of paint or wallpaper needed, or where to hang pictures: “I want to put this picture ten centimetres above the other one.”
- Use the clock to be on time or plan ahead: “If the party is at five o’clock, what time do we need to leave?”
- Read schedules for television, the bus or movie times: “The movie starts at seven o’clock, so we’ll be home before bedtime.”
Promote Math as Thinking, Not Just Memorization
Keep in mind that math is about reasoning, making sense and understanding – not only memorizing. Although some parts of math need to become automatic through memory work, children need time to practice and to do mathematical thinking: “Take your time.”
Ask your child to explain how they figured things out, what they were thinking. This helps them know you value their thinking: “How do you know that? Can you describe how you got that answer? Why do you think that?”
Praise your child often – especially for showing initiative or finding a solution on their own: “Great job using a new way to figure that out!”
Model Positive Attitudes Toward Math
- If you’re positive about math, your child is more likely to be positive too:
- Spend time talking about your positive math experiences: “When I was a kid, I used to love playing card games too” or “Math can be hard, but if we keep trying, we’ll get it.”
- Have fun together while doing math-related activities such as measuring ingredients for cooking, counting out dishes and cutlery for table setting, sorting laundry, building projects, working with tools, or sorting the recycling.
- Encourage your child to be curious about how things work: “I wonder if…”
- Stick with it – try, try and try again! Develop persistence and flexibility by encouraging different ways to approach a problem: “Can you think of a different way to put the shapes together?”
Every Child Learns Math Their Own Way
Remember that everyone develops mathematical understanding at their own rate and in their own way. Tailor and choose activities with your child’s skill level in mind – don’t choose anything too hard. This will make sure they have success, see progress and have fun.