As parents, we want our children to succeed in school because we know that academic success will open doors for them in the future. We are the first teachers our children have. When it comes to our children’s attitudes toward learning, we help set the stage. As kids develop in early childhood, we can foster curiosity along with a growth mindset. We can also begin introducing various concepts through our daily interactions with them. One particularly important developmental area is math concepts. Even parents who feel that math wasn’t their best subject have a great deal they can do to instill a love of math in their children beginning at a very young age.

By doing everyday activities that kids enjoy and using common words associated with math concepts (also known as math talk), parents can help their kids to improve their math skills. Even the simple childhood activity of playing with blocks or legos holds excellent potential for developing math skills. Activities that get children sorting, counting, identifying shapes, and doing basic addition and subtraction can help build math skills.

Here are a few fun daily activities you can do with your children to develop their math skills:

Baking
Have your child help you in the kitchen and measure the ingredients that go into the recipe you’re making. Math is an essential part of baking. Doubling and halving recipes requires multiplication and division, respectively. Measuring out ingredients has kids working with basic fractions, and even something as simple as counting out the number of chocolate chips is using math concepts. With this activity, not only are you doing math together, you get to eat the fruits of your labor, too!

Build Something
Whether it’s building with blocks or legos during play, constructing a playset, or building a treehouse, there’s counting, measuring, and spatial reasoning involved. This activity can be as simple or complex as you want it to be.

Physical Activities
Kids love to see who can jump the furthest and run the fastest. Why not use these natural competitive urges as opportunities to measure distances, use a stopwatch, count up or down from 10, or keep track of how many jumping jacks you each can do? There are many ways to incorporate math concepts into physical play, and your kids will be so busy having fun they probably won’t even realize they’re practicing math skills at the same time.

Play Games Together
Many board, card, and dice games involve the use of math skills. Again, kids have fun, but you know they’re also learning at the same time. It’s a win-win.

Go Shopping or Out to a Restaurant
Every shopping trip is an opportunity to work on counting change and learning the value of money. Give your child their own shopping list and have them total up what they owe. Have them compare the price of two similar items to decide which is less expensive.

At a restaurant, have your child figure out the bill, count out the money, and, for those who are old enough, calculate the tip.

Plan a Party
Party planning involves figuring out how many people you want to invite, making a budget and sticking to it, and making sure there are enough supplies for every guest. Having your child help with things like figuring how many packages of party favors and balloons you’ll need for each guest to have an identical goodie bag to take home.

By doing everyday activities that kids enjoy and using common words associated with math concepts (math talk), parents can help their kids to improve their math skills. Helping kids find joy in math can go a long way in fostering positive attitudes about math, and the more positive experiences kids have with math, the more eager they will be to learn.

Article originally published on https://dredwardthalheimer.co/a-parents-guide-to-making-math-fun/