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
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.
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.
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?