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Helping Your Child With Mathematics

Mathematics is another area where, as a parent or caregiver, you can do a lot to help your child learn and grow. The key is to make things concrete — to give your child “hands-on” experience — and, of course, to have fun.

Problems with learning in mathematics often arise because the child has not spent enough time doing practical math skills. For example, if your child is adding up, let them do it with counters, fingers, objects, or anything else that they can see, manipulate, and count.

Pre-mathematic Skills

Mathematics in early schooling will usually include:

  • Counting
  • Learning to add, subtract, multiply, and divide
  • Measuring
  • Working with money
  • Telling the time

Before children can work with numbers (eg. 10, 84, 150) and mathmetic symbols (eg. +, -, =), they need to understand the ideas behind them.

Children who go to school understanding terms such as “more,” “less,” “the same as,” “smaller,” “bigger,” and “how many” are better prepared for early mathematics and should be able to move easily to more formal work.

How You Can Help

Early preparation for mathematics occurs when parents/caregivers or others:

  • Help children to count different objects such as the number of plates to put on the table or the number of ducks in a pond.
  • Talk to children about time. For example; how many sleeps until your next birthday?
  • Let children find out what they can buy with a few coins.
  • Talk to children as they use building toys like wooden train tracks, Duplo, or similar. For example; “Can you make it bigger?” or “Can you find a curved piece?” or “Is this as tall as the first one you made?”
  • Let children play with water, sand, dough, etc. so that they can learn how much will fit into different sized containers.

Make it fun and encourage your child. Remember to remain positive and don’t try to force things — the more relaxed you and your child are, the better and sooner they’ll learn.

There are literally thousands of ways that you can help your child understand mathematics from counting the number of blue cars when out on a drive to getting them to help you measure up the size of a picture for their room.

You don’t have to sit down with a pencil and paper to do sums — in fact, this can sometimes be counter-productive. Start by using simple, everyday examples and your child will learn without even knowing it.