“Math is hard.” This phrase is said by most parents to their children as they relive their own experiences struggling with formulas, exponents and equations. In most cases, math gets a bad reputation for being the horrible monster of academia. However, being skilled in math is a necessary part of modern day life. From personal finances, construction, cooking, and shopping, math is everywhere. Careers like engineering and finance demand above average math skills. Even non-math careers require analytic and reasoning skills.
So, how can we help our children love math? Many studies show that starting early math training young is very beneficial. Starting young makes children adept at problem solving, so they are ready for more advanced concepts when they come up in their education. Parents are a child’s first teachers. The challenge is discovering how to create simple interactions and activities that serve as a foundation for enjoying math.
Here are some easy ways to make math fun for children
Make Math a Game
Games can be anything from computer games, to sports, to board games. There are numerous apps and computer games for children. These are fun activities they can do on the go or at home. Board games, like Chutes and LAdders or Monopoly, are great activities that can involve the whole family. Card and board games create good foundations for problem solving, addition, and subtraction.
Integrate Math into Daily Activities
Integrate math into activities that are fun for both you and your child. Cooking is a great math activity that you and your child can do together. With cooking, your child can learn counting, addition, subtraction, measuring and estimation. Make math real when you leave your home. Are you stuck in a car? Ask some travel math problems! “If the GPS says we will arrive at 6:15 and it is 6:00 now, how many minutes do we have left?” Or “If we are traveling 50 mile per hour and we have 100 miles to go, how long will it take to get to our destination?” If you are at a grocery store, try asking your child to estimate the cost of the items or how much the discount will be off the price of an item with a coupon.
When your child masters math skills like counting, addition, or subtraction, reward them. This doesn’t have to be a big reward. Maybe a special dessert or an extra hour of TV. This promotes positive reinforcement with learning math. Just make sure your child knows the reward is tied to excellency in math and that they are not inconsistent or inappropriate.
There are a lot of books with mathematical themes for children of all ages. With books, children can learn a variety of concepts from number comparison, to addition and subtraction, to multiplication. Additionally, books that use good math vocabulary give the opportunity for children to familiarize themselves with what different math concepts are called.
Start your child young
You can start teaching your child math as early as their toddler stage. The toddler stage is the best time to introduce math games as play. Through play, children can learn patterns, sequences, seriation, spatial relationships, sorting, comparing, and one-to-one correspondence. All of these concepts will provide a great foundation for when your child starts school. Also, because math is being associated with play, they will learn to love it more.