Recent studies are showing a link between active learning environments at home and children's long-term math success.

“If you have five pieces of candy, and you give me two pieces of your candy, how many pieces of candy do you have left?”

This was a conversation I had with my then 4-year old son, as we were driving home from preschool one day.

His preschool class had just begun playing around with mathematical concepts and my son was enthralled. When he was able to figure out that he had three pieces of candy left, he was even more in love with math and incredibly proud of himself, as he should have been.

Of course, he wanted to know where the real candy was in our conversation, so our discussion then shifted to discussing the difference between literal and theoretical concepts.

We often hear how important it is for parents to promote literacy at home but the emphasis on numeracy doesn’t seem to be pushed quite as much. This, however, will likely change now that studies are showing the link between home numeracy and children’s math success.

More specifically, research shows that children who practice numerical concepts with their parents at an early age tend to be more successful in grasping mathematical concepts in school. Practice does, indeed, make perfect.

Research shows that children who practice numerical concepts with their parents at an early age tend to be more successful in grasping mathematical concepts in school.

Informal Home Instruction is Equally Important

What's interesting to note is that previous studies had only looked at parents who were using formal instructional methods to teach their children numeracy and mathematical concepts, as opposed to informal methods, such as playing board or card games involving numbers, or cooking and using measurements for ingredients.

When researchers included both formal and informal methods, they found that both were equally important to the development of mathematical skills in children.

So, keep rolling the dice, playing Uno at home and encouraging your kids to spend screen time on educational apps like ABCya Games or Mathway!

Home Instruction Can Help Parents Too

Two weeks. Two weeks is all it took for me to go from being gifted in mathematics to struggling to keep up when I was a student. An illness in elementary school at the time when fractions were being taught created a lifelong stumbling block for me when it comes to mathematics.

Now that I’m a parent, I have to keep my math apprehension under wraps so that I don’t unwittingly influence my son. Pushing through my own anxious feelings about math has helped me come up with clever ways to integrate mathematical concepts into our everyday lives.

In fact, seeing my son’s joy when dealing with math has helped to change my own perceptions and slowly re-frame my own feelings toward the subject.

Read: Why Young Girls Think Boys are Smarter

4 Ways to Integrate Math into Your Child’s Daily Life

  1. Become a math family.
    Becoming a Math Family is a site designed to help parents like myself support early numeracy. Created by researchers at the University of Chicago as a way to promote STEM education, Becoming a Math Family offers activities for parents to do with their children, an area for parents to ask math questions, as well as resources for overcoming math anxiety.

    If you’re having a tough time getting started, head over to Becoming a Math Family to get some ideas for integrating math into your family’s daily life.
  2. Teach by playing.
    Children learn best by actively playing, as it allows them to take charge of their own experience. Play is a great way for children to practice and develop higher order thinking skills, as well as a great way to introduce mathematical concepts in an engaging way.

    Check out this fun DIY math puzzle that’s perfect for preschoolers! As your kids get older, try making flashards on an app like Quizlet, which allows for learning in more enjoyable ways.
  3. Communication is key.
    This goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway - communication goes a long way. To further reinforce the fact that math is social, talk about it.

    Begin integrating number and shape words into your conversations, which can be as simple as pointing out shapes or numbers of items when you’re out and about with your little ones.

  4. Track progress visually.
    One way we integrate math into our daily lives is with a chore jar. Now, my 5-year old receives small pom-poms for doing chores around the house, or making wise choices and helping others, which he puts into a jar after earning.

    Different chores are associated with different sized pom-poms and if my son misbehaves, he’s asked to remove a specific number of pom-poms from his jar.

    When he fills the jar, he is rewarded. Not only is the chore jar visual, encouraging my son to count how many pom-poms he has earned to track his progress, but it’s also tactile and allows him to be in charge of physically adding and subtracting.

From someone who’s not a particularly big fan of mathematics, getting creative can really help make mathematical concepts fun for both you and your young child. Most importantly, you’re helping your child build a foundation for future mathematical success.

Discover educational apps to help your child learn.