Before you can teach your child about money, they must know some basic math. And even the most advanced mathematician can be intimidated when it comes to teaching kids math.
We’ve all seen a parent ask a child how old they are, and some random number of fingers show up. Or heard a child count and skip half the numbers. It’s so cute.
As a homeschool and foster/adoptive parent to older kids, I have had to teach math from a variety of stages and in a variety of methods. No one method works for every child.
Math for my two biological children started very young and in two places: the kitchen and the grocery store!
In the Kitchen
Every parent knows that your child wants to be where you are. Instead of banging on pots and pans or pulling everything out of the cabinets, I invited my children to do what I did.
They measured and stirred, chopped (with a butter knife at this age) and poured. It was messy. There were lots of “oops” moments. But my kids understood the concept of fractions before they could count to one hundred.
And they loved decorating and delivering their baked goods to neighbors and family.
In the Grocery Store
We were blessed with a FANTASTIC Kroger near us when my children were small. The staff quickly became accustomed to our weekly “math” lessons/grocery shopping trips.
Because I worked from home and had flexible hours, we went during their least busy times. And the kids quickly became confident and independent in their tasks. (Safety was always considered, but the staff were great and quickly understood what we were doing and supported that.)
We started with shapes and colors. They couldn’t read at this age (think 2 and 3) but on any given aisle I would assign them each to find a certain shape or color. This exercise not only gave me a chance to grab what I needed unencumbered by “can I have” or whines, but kept them active and engaged.
As we got started, I would show them an example and discuss characteristics…
- A square has 4 equal sides while a rectangle has two sides that are equal and then another two sides are equal, but not all four.
- Or a circle is flat while a cylinder has a circle on the top and a circle on the base, like this Pringles container.
Elementary Age Math
Because I knew I would homeschool, I never considered school standards or the order I taught things. We really followed a Montessori method and most learning was child led.
If they expressed an interest we went with it. There were no experiences that I couldn’t and didn’t make a lesson out of.
As they got more advanced, those grocery descriptions became more advanced and their tasks got more complex. By the time they were in early elementary, they would each have a small measuring tape and have to find items with a certain perimeter or tell me the area or volume of a box. Geometry at it’s finest.
Introducing Math Curriculum
Even in elementary children are more apt to learn by play and movement, but I understand the need ingrained in us from our own education to use worksheets and curriculum.
One math curriculum that understands and does a good job of meeting both needs is Math-U-See. They offer a mastery based, student paced curriculum that encourages, even demand the use of manipulatives even through their upper level classes.
And don’t worry if the thought of teaching your child math intimidates you, they offer a full video curriculum as well!
Teaching your young child math can be so much fun! More play than teaching really. And it can take you anywhere and does not require any special skills, tools or forethought most of the time.
Ask your child what the volume is of the drink they are drinking, show them how to read the label. Then turn that into a science lesson by talking about the path it will follow…at elementary age that’s super simple. You can even add a health lesson by talking about the affects of whatever they are drinking on their teeth or general health.
In the end, your child will learn more from you through these short engagements then in any classroom. So put down your phone, turn off the TV and lets do a scavenger hunt for “blue” things! Have fun!