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Incorporating Math in Day-to-Day Life

(Posted January 14, 2020)

Incorporating Math in Day-to-Day Life

Count with your kids. One of the most basic math lessons you can use in your everyday life is counting. If you naturally incorporate counting into your speech, your child will start picking up on it and doing it themselves. Count backwards as well as forwards, then move onto counting by twos, threes, fours, fives, and so on. For example, you could count how many:
Plates you need to set the table.
Toys are on the floor.
Stop signs are on the way to school.
Stairs are in a staircase.

Work on number recognition. Your child can't communicate math on paper until they know what numbers look like when written. As you notice numbers in the world, point them out to your child.
For a younger child, try a number puzzle or playing hopscotch.
For an older child, try bus numbers at a bus stop or the house numbers on a house.
As the child becomes better at recognizing numbers, try phone numbers or car license plates.

Highlight the ways you use math. Most of the time, you use math on a day-to-day basis. Try thinking out loud when you find yourself using math to show your kids where math is relevant. Be sure to do this every day. For example, you could do the following:
Comparing prices at the grocery store.
Measure ingredients for a recipe.
Calculate coupon discounts.

Work on shapes. Shapes are important for understanding geometry. You can ask your child to name shapes as you run errands, as well as to name the shapes they play with. You can also do things like bake cookies with basic shapes, which combines learning and fun. Don’t forget to incorporate 3D shapes as well!
There are lots of shape-based puzzles for younger children. They usually require the child to match a set of shapes or name different shapes.
For an older child, try building a simple box out of paper and tape. Have them measure and cut all the pieces with a ruler and scissors.
Point out shapes in the real world, such as octagonal stop signs and traffic cones.

Ask estimation questions. While direct questions are helpful in learning the basics of math, estimation questions require kids to think through a problem, not just spout out a basic answer. This tip works for both younger and older kids, but you may need to adjust the question.
For instance, an estimation question could be, "How much water do you think will fill up this pitcher?" Let your child try their hand at estimating, and then you can do an experiment to see how close the guess was. For younger kids, you might need to first show them how much a cup is.
For older kids, you can try more complex questions, such as "How long will it take to fill the bathtub with water?"

Write numbers by hand. If your child is recognizing numbers, it's not that much of a leap to work on writing numbers. You can have your child mimic how you write a number, for instance.
You can also write out numbers or outline them with dots or dashes and have your child trace them, then try writing the numbers on their own.
You can try more tactile methods, such as drawing numbers in shaving foam or sand.

Focus on number bonds. Another way to help your child understand the concepts of math is to use number bonds. That is, start by working on all the pairs that add together to make five (0+5, 1+4, 2+3, 3+2, and so on) by having them solve these pairs with the dot method. Then you can work on bonded pairs for 10.

Make use of memorization. While working on understanding the concepts themselves will help your child learn math, pairing it with some memorization can be beneficial. Memorization can make math go quicker, so that they don't need to think through every problem.
You can work on memorizing times tables, for instance, by using flashcards.
One exercise that combines understanding and memorization is having your child count by 3s, 4s, 5s, and so on. Your child will need to think through the problem, and they will eventually realize that multiplying is just a form of adding. At the same time, repeatedly counting by these numbers will aid with memorization.

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