The society here in the US embraces literacy. We bombard parents continuously with messages about reading:

*Read to your child everyday.*

Sing the ABC song.

**Let your child see you read.**

*Remember to get a library card.*

The advice goes on and on.

Creating a literary environment is a **GOOD **thing. As a former teacher with an advanced degree in reading & literacy,

I love to hear families talking about reading. It’s definitely an important subject!

*But it’s not the only one. *

I’m tired of going to the store and having the cashier make a mistake, only to shrug, smile, and say, “I’m terrible at math.”

I’m tired of teachers putting tons of effort into their reading groups and reading lessons and reading everything, and flying through math time because they don’t like it as much.

Guess what? Our kids are watching. They are listening. They are learning.

And as long as we stay this course, the mathidemic in our country will continue.

## Why We Have a Mathidemic

Why are our scores so low for math and science? Because we don’t encourage a mathematical environment for our babies, toddlers and preschoolers (or older children for that matter!) We are SO obsessed with literacy that we forget everything else.

## The Good News?

It’s not too late to change our course. To show our children that math is just as fun as reading. That math is useful in everyday settings, and very important.

Need some encouragement?

# Seven Painless Ways to Integrate Math

## 1. Count

A lot. Walking up the steps? Count them. Folding socks? Count the pairs. And don’t stop at 10. There are a whole lot of numbers out there, so introduce them to your children. Talk about the 100 pennies in a dollar, and the 60 seconds in a minute.

## 2. Estimate

This math skill is crucial for building higher level thinking. It’s also super easy to bring into your everyday life.

Pouring out little goldfish for a quick snack? Ask your child how many he thinks is in his pile. Then count them and see.

Hanging clothes on the line? Each of you take a turn estimating how long it will take. Then set your timer and begin. See who got the closest.

## 3. Sort

Eating candy? Encourage your child to take a moment and sort it by color before popping it into her mouth.

Have your child unload the silverware. You get one less chore, and she gets great sorting practice. Big spoons, little forks, knives—learning to tell the difference and group like items preps the brain for larger sorting tasks in the future.

## 4. Find Shapes

That sewer cover is a circle. Do you see a square?

Shapes are everywhere. Talk about them, and point them out. Remember the uncommon ones like trapezoids and rhombuses (diamonds).

## 5. Gather data

Are you offering a choice for dinner beverages? Is lunch a choice of a hotdog or a hamburger? Equip your child with a piece of paper and a pen and have him find out what everyone wants. Teach him to use tally marks for quick counting.

Then you can quickly analyze the data. How many glasses of milk do we need? How many more people want hot dogs than hamburgers?

## 6. Identify numbers

You can slightly tweak many games that require letter to look for numbers instead.

See who can find the numbers 0-9 first.

Who can find the largest number on your car trip?

How about the smallest?

Numbers are everywhere. Go look for them together.

## 7. Use math words

Content area vocabulary is essential. Give your child a head start by using math words at home. If Grandma is joining you for dinner, ask your child to ADD one plate.

Spending money? Talk about how you SUBTRACT money from your checkbook.

Divide the cookies evenly for snack time.

Taking the time to incorporate math into your life will result in huge dividends. Each task is slowly building a solid foundation on which her math skills can grow. Encourage math, just as you encourage literacy.

Parents, let’s work together to stop this mathidemic before it gets any worse. Don’t tell your child that you HATE math. Work on it together, and you may find yourself even enjoying it a bit.

How do you feel about math? What ideas can you add for promoting math immersion for our children?

Lerie says

I can’t thank you enough for this post! I’m not from the States but it is so true how literacy seems to be the main focus. I have a 19 month old and I just realized I need to purposefully include “mathematics” in my conversations and activities with him (age appropriate of course). Your tips are and will come in really useful. Thank you.

Lisa says

Thanks Lerie!

Your child is the perfect age to begin doing some of these activities! I hope you are able to enjoy math together!

Leilani says

Interesting perspective. I’m trying to think back to the language in our household. Not sure if it was mathy. I do love to sort, though! 🙂

Julie says

What a brilliant post! There are so many ways to introduce math to our littles. We do the counting stairs thing as he climbs, but you’ve given me so many more ideas.

Lisa says

I hope you and your little one have fun exploring math!

Shannon Gauger says

You’ve brought up some really good points about math. I hear all the time “I’m not good at math!” I’m a teacher and have been for the last 15 years. I will say that math is being taught but some of the basic skills are being pushed to the side to now teach to the ‘test’ we see every spring. Basic math skills are very important! Thanks for sharing these great ideas on how to use math!

Brittney Minor says

Love these hands on ideas that parents can do with their kids. Math is important and is necessary in everyday life.

Ronni @ The Screenwriter's Wife says

Ha, I love this. I’m a math teacher and I’m pretty sure that I talk about numbers, and counting, and sorting, and shapes, and money probably MORE than I’m emphasizing pre-reading skills with my kids…oh well! 🙂 But I will say, that I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve heard people tell me that they don’t like math, or didn’t do good in math, or thought math was hard, etc. when people find out I’m a math teacher.

Sigh…I feel like it’s wasted breath sometimes, but some people are not just born with math intuition and others aren’t. EVERYONE can do math, at the very least up through Algebra/Geometry. It’s all mostly problem solving skills.

Jen says

Wow, what a thought provoking post. This really made me rethink time with my preschooler. Math is all around us, I need to focus more on the everyday opportunities to be “mathy” with her. Thanks, for the reminder.

Bellybyted says

What a wonderfully well written article . Teaching mathematical skills is as easy as ABC. Unfortunately we have made counting and curiosity into bogey men. Science and maths have to be introduced as you suggested at an early age and in everyday life. I don’t want to sound critical but your font is difficult to read on a mobile screen.

Lisa says

Thank you for your comment. I will definitely look into making my mobile font more reader friendly–I appreciate you letting me know!

Stacy says

Great ideas! My little girl must have some of her daddy’s engineering blood in her because she loves math. My kids are 4 and 6 and both of them love to do mathwork because we do so much hands-on work. It’s not all about worksheets or books. It’s about getting out the measuring cups and actually seeing what 1/4 cup looks like in different containers. It’s about using Cuisenaire rods to see the growth of numbers or building math fact families. It’s using Unifix blocks or Legos to talk more about addition, subtraction, and even multiplication. We use real pizza to talk about fractions. They loved using Lucky Charms to estimate, gather data, and chart.

It is a pet peeve of mine when people can’t make change or when you can throw them off by adding a coin to your payment. IE giving them $10.01 for a $3.01 bill instead of just $10.

Millie says

I love this. I also have a 2 year old and he is a little sponge, absorbing every little detail. I hope to incorporate some of these ideas to get him to learn about Math.

Lisa/Syncopated Mama says

I love these ideas and am happy to see that we do many of them around here already. Of course, with a math teacher in the house, I guess that makes sense… Pinning so that others can see your great post!

Shannon says

Great post – I have two small kids and this is definitely something we try to place focus on. I hope that we raise them to have a good understanding of math and to excel in all areas of their lives.

Shelah says

You make some really good points here. We can be good math role models for our kids.

Erin says

Good ideas! There has to be balance. I currently live in an Asian culture in which the philosophy is “math above all else,” and it isn’t good. Balance of literacy, math and science are key to helping kids grow up well educated and helps them steer toward what interests them.

Lisa says

Thanks for sharing, it’s so interesting to see what different cultures focus on. You hit the nail on the head with your point about balance!

Rachel says

What great ideas to learn all the while having a bit of fun. I don’t know about cookies though; one in the mouth and one to count, one in the mouth and so forth.

I have been in that same situation where someone does not know how to subtract the amount of money you hand over minus the purchase. I find it astounding that people are comfortable with not being good at adding and subtracting – especially in the work place concerning money.

Rachel.

Leila says

There is no mathidemic in my house! My kids love love love math (and I of course hate hate hate math! LOL) My daughter, 4th grade, is an advanced math class and my son, 2nd grade, will probably be shortly behind her. They are both excelling at math and love it. I purchase them math books to do as fun (for them they think it’s fun, I won’t argue!) In fact, I just got them both a grade level up in Kumon work books for them to “play” with.

Lisa says

That’s great Leila! Way to raise kids who love math even though you don’t like it! Nicely done!

Jennifer Corter says

So true! I myself AM terrible at math, but I homeschool my son, and I make sure we do math-related activities, and that he always works out of his math workbook, no matter what. I don’t want him to turn out like me. I can’t even make change. >_<

Crystal says

You have some great ideas for incorporating math in everyday life. I used to teach high school and I was always amazed at how many students didn’t even have basic math skills.

Crystal Green says

As a person who loves Math, I tend to naturally do these kinds of things without putting much thought into it. My kids are advanced in Math for their ages. They love it almost as much as I do. These are all fun easy ways to incorporate Math into our everyday life.

Reading has been our struggling topic. However, we always manage to overcome it.

Jeana Walz, CAP says

Great post. Yes math is an important skill. Hope we as a nation improve in this area. Thanks for the reminder!

Linda says

What a great post this is! I volunteer with my company to go into elementary and middle schools to teach lessons on STEM topics (I work for an insurance company) and it always amazes me how little of the math language children seem to have these days. Finding an average can be a challenge for a 6th grader – I seem to remember doing that earlier in my education.

What an important subject, thank you for the good tips to start out early – everyone wins when they’re “good” at math!

Tina says

Great ideas! No better way to learn than hands-on during life experiences.

Pam says

These are great tips! Although I love to read (and so do my kiddos), my husband is a math teacher, so math gets as much attention in our house. Something we do is practice math facts in the car. The kids LOVE competing against each other – in fact, my son is quite the math whiz partially because he’s been working so hard to keep up with his older sister. It used to be simple addition, but now we’ve moved on to double digit multiplication!

Lisa says

Math competitions in the car is a great idea–thanks Pam!

Marie says

I’ve always liked math and you have some great suggestions for providing a math-rich environment where kids can easily learn. We also homeschool and have done almost all of the tips you suggested. Great post!

Betsy @ A Mother's Road says

This is great encouragement!! For totschool so far, we have included math ideas. My 2 year old can count to 10 sometimes, and sometimes 14! We’ve talked about shapes (and he can correctly identify 5 different shapes) and have done sorting. This week we are trying out patterns, which is a hard concept, but at least I’m exposing him to the concept, right? Even if he doesn’t get it this time around. Thanks for your encouragement!

Lisa says

Definitely Betsy, you will hit all of these concepts again. Right now, you are just building a foundation so he has something solid to build on when you introduce it again. Great work!

Tj says

I’ve always loved math and was always very good at it but you are correct that they place so much emphasis on reading that they tend to leave kids with the impression that they won’t need math when they graduate and that is a very wrong picture to paint. Great post!

Laura says

I am with you I believe a love for learning starts at home. I try to incorporate math into almost everything we do from getting dressed in the morning to baking cookies. I love numbers and problem solving so I want to pass that on to my kids as well by making it fun and something they want to do.

ChristyK says

Wow. This is such an awesome list. I was homeschooled all the way through and my mom often did these things for us kids all. the. time. My two year old daughter (without hardly any ‘formal’ homeschooling) knows how to count from 1-20 (with some help), she knows her shapes, she helps me sort dishes from the dishwasher, she even helps me set the table and ask Daddy what he wants to drink for supper. Then, she gets to choose what she would like to drink and eat. I love it!

Miranda says

These are amazing! I had never thought about many of these. I will definitely start instituting these in both our homeschool and everyday life. I also pinned onto my math board.

Missy says

Not sure why spelling and reading are emphasized more than math in school, or in society in general. It is important and you find this out real quick as you get older and it applies in many different situations.

I do think kids of today are smarter than kids my generation; I could be wrong – but I think they pick up quicker and generally because of preschool and whatnot learn at a younger age. My nephew likes math, so there you go – there’s one for you to be happy about. 🙂

Great post – with good ideas and advice. Thanks!

Heather says

I think you wrote this post just for me because I am horrible at math and it stresses me out that I will have to teach my children since I homeschool. I know you are right that I should learn together and make sure they don’t know how much I hate it. 😉

Catrina says

Really great ideas! Our daughter is only 8 months but we read to her every night just to get in the habit and so she is exposed to it early.

Talent hounds says

Very interesting post. It is so rare nowadays that you hear anyone have anything positive to say about mathematics. To be honest, I was genuinely never good at math and had to work really hard just to scrape by in class so for me it was not a priority. I do think though that it is an important skill and I am glad I worked so hard to understand it because as you said literacy is not the only important field of knowledge!

Erin - American Mom in England says

Numeracy (as it’s often referred to in the UK), is every bit as important as literacy. I think you hit the nail on the head with the phrase: ‘Our kids are watching. They are listening. They are learning.’

They really are.

My son excels in mathematics. From a very young age he was exposed to numbers. I can vividly remember him sitting next to my father and pointing a numbers on the page of whatever sodoku puzzle he was working, demanding Grandpa tell him what they were. Just like with literacy, start expose young and keep challenging them.

Melissa Vera says

I know it seems like children these days can’t even do a simple addition problem without pulling out a calculator. That is so sad.

Rebecca says

I dislike math. But it wasn’t always the case. I had a teacher in 6th grade who humiliated me when I was solving a problem on the board and from then on I gave up on math. However, as a homeschooling mom I refuse to let me kids tell me that they are “not good at math”. For my one daughter, math comes very easy to her and would work on math all day if I let her. My younger daughter, not so much. I try to make math fun and incorporate everyday things (food, legos, money, dolls, etc) into learning so they realize the importance of learning math.

monica says

Great post! I hear you on it. We exposed our little guys to numbers young just like reading. They love it and are pretty darn good at it.

Haley @ Haley's Vintage says

I love math and science. They both have simple rules to follow. We are working hard with our children to emphasize how important it is for them. Our middle child learned how to count to 12 really early when getting the eggs from the chickens. There are so many ways you practice without them realizing that you are.

Myriam says

This is a great and well needed post. I have always been a math lover very early on. It was fascinating to me to solve a math problem. That love for math has been passed down to my children. We do a number of the things you mentioned without really thinking about it. It’s laying the foundation for them early on.

C. Lee Reed says

When my daughter was younger, we instilled a love for math through counting. Fruits, cars, puppies…anything we could count we did.

Nikki Rae says

Great tips. I hadn’t thought of using math words. I count, sort, and play “I Spy” with shapes but don’t normally use math words with my five year old. Starting today.