Math is one of those subjects that people either love or hate. Some people pick up new math skills easily, while others constantly struggle with basic concepts. It doesn’t help either when our world is filled with so much automation such as calculators, digital clocks, or digital cash registers, that many people think they can discount basic math skills.
So what do you do when your child says “I’m not good at math”? Well first before they get old enough to say that, it is important to develop strong solid math skills. By building the foundation for math, children will believe that math is easy and comes naturally to them as well.
Since reading is around us and most programs are geared towards reading, reading is easier for most children to pick up. So here are some things to do to help your child become good in Math:
Read Math books
There are so many books that teach and introduce math concepts that your child will naturally pick up. These books are also great way to introduce or read a new math concept. Click here to see books by math concept.
Everyday Math that works
I think the most important thing to do is to introduce skills early and when your child shows interest. For example, when you go to the grocery store, it is a great place to start introducing money. You don’t need a worksheet to count out dollar bills or coins. This candy costs .79 cents, three quarters make .75 cents and I will add 4 more pennies to make 79. Not only is this mental math which helps your child begin to visualize the math in their head, but you are giving them authentic experience that will make the math make sense.
While you are cooking you can talk about fractions. I’m going to give you and your sister one half of an orange. When I cut the orange in two pieces, I will have two halves. You don’t have to say, a fraction is blah blah blah….talk naturally in a way that your child will understand.
Again in the kitchen you can talk about measurements. I need one cup of flour to make the cookies. I pour the flour then repeat to my three year old, pour one cup of flour in the bowl. Does a three year old know about fractions. Of course not. But I am building her background knowledge so that when she begins to learn fractions she will already have an idea of what we are talking about.
Point out objects around the house and notice their shapes. The window is a rectangle. For older children, you can say how many sides does the window have?
Let’s look at the tissue box. How many sides does it have? How many faces? How many edges? How many vertices? Again, I’m teaching geometry and my child has no idea. But I am doing so in an interactive way that makes learning more enjoyable and less pressured.
Young children struggle with telling time. With digital clocks all around us, it’s easy to think that your child knows how to tell time. Invest in a basic analog clock so that your child can learn to read time. Think about it, most business offices, schools, and watches are analog. Telling time is important. Not just telling time, but also time vocabulary (quarter after, quarter of, half past, etc.)
I introduce time by using our analog clock and saying at certain times of the day we will be doing a certain activity (11:00 is lunch). When the small hand is on the 11, and the big hand is on the 12 we will go to lunch. My children like to watch the clock to see when it happens. Once your child is older then you can introduce time vocabulary (hour hand, minute hand, etc).
Addition and Subtraction
Do you know why these skills are so hard for some children when they have to do multiple digit problems (like 568-321)? It’s because they do not know their basic facts by heart. Children have to know addition and subtraction facts to 20 by memory. Just asking questions such as I have 10 blocks and I’m taking 2 away gives them that mental practice they need. Once they get older they should do this automatically without counting on their fingers. A solid foundation of addition and subtraction makes multiplication and division much easier.
Mulltiplication is repeated addition. If your child learns their addition facts by heart, multiplication will be much easier to master.
There are many things that come in rows that you can use for multiplication. For example, eggs and cupcakes. Let’s count how many cupcakes are in one row and in one column. This is a great way to practice. Multiplication is also easier if a child learns all their facts at least up to 12. There are many math cds to help them when they get older memorize them as well.
I like this book when going over division with my child. Even if they aren’t at that point in school (third grade), you can still introduce it. Then after reading the book we use hersheys or a more healthier option is graham crackers. Just say, I’m going to give four friends a piece of graham cracker. How many pieces does each friend get? You can also use a certain number of raisins, candies, or cheerios. I have 6 grapes, and I’m going to share with 2 children. How many does each one get? Then I count out 1 by 1 to see that each child has 3. Again, the older the child, change the vocabulary. I will divide these grapes among two people.