Easy and Painless Ideas to Help Children Learn Math Using Activities Around the House

Girl Cooking at HomeIt’s easy for parents to feel pressured to hover over their kids during homework time — or even to give them extra worksheets in an effort to get them ready for grade school academics — but young children can actually get most of their math practice from real life experiences. There’s just not much evidence that formal homework has a positive impact on small children. Fortunately, there are plenty of ideas to help children learn math at home without feeling like you’ve turned into your child’s tutor instead of a parent.

Try these activities to bring math (and fun) into your child’s everyday routine:

Cook Up Some Measurements

Kids love to cook. Use this idea to help your children learn math. Give them a head start on understanding basic units of measurement as they help add ingredients to a recipe. While you measure flour, let your child experiment to see how many quarter-cups of flour it takes to make one cup. Likewise, you can also practice pouring cups into pints and pints into quarts to help your child grasp the difference between these basic units.

As your child gets older, you can start to work on fractions as you cut recipes in half or thirds for a greater challenge.

Tip: If you could use a refresher yourself, try getting a kitchen measurement conversion magnet to keep on your fridge for handy reference.

Experiment With Laundry Probability

Girl Doing LaundryGetting your child to help you sort the laundry and making it educational? That’s a win-win! You can get a jump on basic probability by giving your child a basket of socks to sort. What are the odds of pulling out a matching pair right away? Does it get easier or harder as the number of socks in the basket dwindles? You’ll need to talk through the exercise, of course, but over time the logic will sink in and provide a real-world foundation for basic probability exercises later.

As your child gets older, have her count the total number of socks and note how many times it takes to reach in and pull out a pair. The more socks to start, the harder it will be! And the best part…they won’t even realize that you’re helping them learn math.

Put Time on Your Side

Time is an abstract concept, but an important one for future math and science success. Help your child begin to understand how long minutes, seconds and hours are by letting him use a stopwatch to measure how long certain activities take. As he watched the seconds turn into minutes, talk about how seconds are faster than minutes. Have your child estimate how long a chore will take or a TV show will last before checking the guess with a stopwatch.

As your child gets older, show him how to convert seconds into minutes and minutes into hours to add some multiplication and division skills to the mix.

The Bottom Line

These are just a couple of ideas to help children learn math. Getting a start on teaching younger children through activities around the house will provide a solid foundation in math while still keeping things enjoyable and hands-on. Though equations and word problems are developmentally out of reach for most preschoolers, these activities can be tweaked and enriched as your child ages and develops more complex reasoning skills, so your household math fun will never go out of style.

Parent Resources

Here are some additional ideas to help children learn math at home:

SHARE PICTURE BOOKS. Share books with your child about counting, shapes, and numbers.

COUNT EVERYTHING. Count steps up and down stairs, the number of windows and chairs-just about everything your child is interested in that you can count. Count how many times you can bounce a ball or skip rope without stopping.

MEASURE EVERYTHING. Collect empty jars of various sizes and shapes. Set a dishpan or large pot of water outside and let your child explore the jars. Then have her compare how much the jars hold by pouring water from one to another.

SET THE TABLE. Ask your child to set the table, putting one item out for each person. As an added challenge, invite your child to count out the items ahead of time, then pass them out.

*From Scholastic

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