Education Guides

Helping Your Child With Math

We know from research that children are more likely to be successful learners of any subject when parents actively support their learning. Today, helping children to make the effort to learn, appreciate and master mathematics is more important than ever. Our increasingly technological world demands strong skills in mathematics, not only in the workforce but also in everyday life, and these demands will only increase over the lifetimes of our children.

To ensure that our children are ready for high school and on track for success in college and the workforce, parents must become involved early and stay involved over the school years to reinforce children"s skills in and positive attitudes toward mathematics.

Starting in elementary school, children should be learning beginning concepts in algebra, geometry, measurement, statistics and logic. In addition, they should be learning how to solve problems by applying knowledge of math to new situations. They should be learning to think of themselves as mathematicians able to reason mathematically and to communicate mathematical ideas by talking and writing.

This article includes a range of activities for families with children from preschool age through grade 5. These activities use materials found inside your home and also make learning experiences out of everyday routines, such as grocery shopping and doing laundry. The activities are designed for you to have fun with your child while developing and reinforcing mathematical skills. We hope you and your child will enjoy the activities suggested in this article and develop many more of your own.

Let"s look closely at what it means to be a problem solver, to communicate mathematically and to demonstrate mathematical reasoning ability.

A problem solver is someone who questions, finds, investigates and explores solutions to problems; demonstrates the ability to stick with a problem to find a solution; understands that there may be different ways to arrive at an answer; and applies math successfully to everyday situations. You can encourage your child to be a good problem solver by including him in routine activities that involve math for example, measuring, weighing, figuring costs and comparing prices of things he wants to buy.

To communicate mathematically means to use mathematical language, numbers, charts or symbols to explain things and to explain the reasoning for solving a problem in a certain way, rather than just giving the answer. It also means careful listening to understand others" ways of thinking and reasoning. You can help your child learn to communicate mathematically by asking her to explain what she must do to solve a math problem or how she arrived at her answer. You could ask your child to draw a picture or diagram to show how she arrived at the answer.

Mathematical reasoning ability means thinking logically, being able to see similarities and differences in objects or problems, making choices based on those differences and thinking about relationships among things. You can encourage your child"s mathematical reasoning ability by talking frequently with him about these thought processes.

Some Important Things Your Child Needs to Know About Mathematics

You can help your child learn math by offering her insights into how to approach math. She will develop more confidence in her math ability if she understands the following points:

1. Problems Can Be Solved in Different Ways.

Although most math problems have only one answer, there may be many ways to get to that answer. Learning math is more than finding the correct answer; it"s also a process of solving problems and applying what you"ve learned to new problems.

2. Wrong Answers Sometimes Can Be Useful.

Accuracy is always important in math. However, sometimes you can use a wrong answer to help your child figure out why she made a mistake.wrong answers can help your child to understand the the problem and to learn to apply skills to arrive at the correct answer.your child to explain how she solved a math problem. Her explanation might help you discover if she needs help with number skills, such as addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, or with the concepts involved in solving the problem.

3. Take Risks!

Help your child to be a risk taker. Help him see the value of trying to solve a problem, even if it"s difficult. Give your child time to explore different approaches to solving a difficult problem. As he works, encourage him to talk about what he is thinking. This will help him to strengthen math skills and to become an independent thinker and problem solver.

4. Being Able to Do Mathematics in Your Head Is Important.

Mathematics isn"t restricted to pencil and paper activities. Doing math "in your head" (mental math) is a valuable skill that comes in handy as we make quick calculations of costs in stores, restaurants or gas stations. Let your child know that by using mental math, her math skills will become stronger.

5. It"s Sometimes OK to Use a Calculator to Solve Mathematics Problems.

It"s OK to use calculators to solve math problems sometimes. They are widely used today, and knowing how to use them correctly is important. The idea is for your child not to fall back on the excuse,

"I don"t need to know math I"ve got a calculator." Let your child know that to use calculators correctly and most efficiently, she will need a strong grounding in math operations otherwise, how will she know whether the answer she sees displayed is reasonable!

How to Use This Article

The major portion of this article is made up of activities that you can use with your child to strengthen math skills and build strong positive attitudes toward math. You don"t need to be a great mathematician or to have a college degree in math to use them. Your time and interest and the pleasure that you share with your child as part of working together are what matter most.

As the activities pertain to specific mathematical concepts, the article provides a glossary defining these concepts (see page 60). Also, at the end of this article, you"ll find lists of resources, such as books for you and for your child, helpful Web sites and the names of federal agencies that you can contact for more information about how to help your child with math. Let"s get started!


The activities in this section are arranged into four categories: Mathematics in the Home, Mathematics at the Grocery Store, Mathematics on the Go and Mathematics for the Fun of It. For each activity, you"ll see a grade span from preschool through grade 5 that suggests when children should be ready to try it. Of course, children don"t always become interested in or learn the same things at the same time. And they don"t suddenly stop enjoying one thing and start enjoying another just because they are a little older. You"re the best judge of which activity your child is ready to try. For example, you may find that an activity listed for children in grades 1 or 2 works well with your preschooler. On the other hand, you might discover that the same activity may not interest your child until he is in grade 3 or 4.

Feel free to make changes in an activity shorten or lengthen it to suit your child"s interests and attention span. Most of the things that you might need for these activities are found around most homes.

As a parent, you can help your child want to learn in a way no one else can. That desire to learn is a key to your child"s success, and, of course, enjoyment is an important motivator for learning. As you choose activities to use with your child, remember that helping him to learn doesn"t mean that you can"t laugh and have a good time. In fact, you can teach your child a lot through play. And you can play with and make games out of almost any math skill or concept. We hope that you and your child enjoy these activities and that they inspire you to think of additional activities of your own.

Mathematics in the Home

Your home is a great place for you to begin to explore and "talk" mathematics with your child. Incorporating math activities and language into familiar daily routines will show your child how math works in his everyday life and provide him with a safe environment in which to take risks by trying new things.

Rhyme and Sing


Young children love to hear, sing and say nursery rhymes and songs. Counting rhymes and songs can be both enjoyable for them and introduce them to basic mathematics concepts, such as number names and

number sequence.

What You Need

Book of nursery rhymes or songs Feather

What to Do

Teach your child the following counting rhyme:

Four Little Ducks

Four little ducks that I once knew,

Fat ducks, skinny ducks, they were, too.

But one little duck with a feather on her back,

She ruled the others with a quack! quack! quack!

Down to the river they all would go, 1, 2, 3, 4, all in a row.

But one little duck with a feather on her back, She ruled the others with a quack! quack! quack!

Say the rhyme with your child several times. When she can say the rhyme all the way through, have other family members join you. Give your child a feather and have her lead everyone around the room as you all sing.

For the following rhyme, show your child how to perform the actions indicated.

Five Little Speckled Frogs

Five little speckled frogs

(hold up five fingers)

Sitting on a speckled log

(sit on your heels)

Eating some most delicious bugs

(pretend to eat)

Yum! Yum!

One jumped into the pool


Where it was nice and cool

(cross arms over chest and shiver)



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By Courtney Lynne I am an analyst by profession and trend researching is my passion. I also loves to share my knowledge. Get me on Google + and Twitter Find us on Google+

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