Studies have shown the dramatic impact 15 minutes of reading a night can have on a childs’ performance not just in literature courses, but all across the academic board.
Reading makes you better at history and science, at learning new languages - at nearly any endeavor you could think of.
And with just a measly 15 minutes being the basement for making a change, parents have been adept at incorporating nightly reading routines into their children’s schedules.
Math achievement is also correlated with higher reading achievement and more consistent reading habits - which makes a lot of sense, if you think about it.
Many math problems incorporate critical thinking, require students to digest and connect multiple different pieces of information, and even require students to respond in full sentences (gasp!).
This only becomes more true as children age, with higher-level subjects in high school and college mixing different disciplines, and many of the most desirable jobs heavily incorporate and intertwine math and reading skills.
Luckily, there’s much more parents can do to build math skills at home with their kindergarden or preschooling children. While we recommend instituting nightly reading routines with your child, studies have shown that making a conscious effort to help them build their math skills, fluency, and familiarity at home can have a proven and easily replicable impact.
In this article, we’ll introduce several clear steps you can take as a parent to begin or continue making an impact on your child’s academic achievement in kindergarten maths.
Changing your Math Mindset
Last week, we covered what it means to have a Growth Mindset. Simply put, it can be summarized as believing in our capacity to improve and change with self-love and hard work.
Mindsets have a lot to do with the way we all look at the challenges in our lives, and Math is no different. It’s incredibly common for parents to look at the math homework brought home by their kindergarten kids and think to themselves, how did I ever figure this out? Why don’t I remember this?
It turns out that many of us have negative mindsets about math - much of which is tied up in our own fears and struggles around the subject.
Research suggests that parental ability to aid their students has little to nothing to do with their own proficiency in the subject. Parental anxiety around math is the biggest determining factor in the mathematical success of their children.
Much like making the shift to a growth mindset, parent’s express their sentiments to their children through the lens of a fixed mindset - saying things like ‘math is hard’ or ‘how did you get that question wrong.’
Changing the way parents think about math and how they convey that support to their children is critical to their success.
An easy first steps for parent’s trying to shift their mindsets on math is to review our article on building growth mindsets in children, as the strategies suggested there can be applied at any age starting from K1 or K2 level.
Incorporating Math, Everywhere
Calculating tips is a mathematical exercise. So is: building a shed; building a treehouse; counting the stop signs passed on a drive; cooking; on and on, the sentiment is clear: Math is everywhere!!!
While most parents think the only thing they can do to aid their children is helping them, Tutor City’s challenge for parents is to treat math like the pervasive skill that it is, and incorporate it as often as they can.
The NWEA has shared a comprehensive list of ways parents can do so (you can view the full list here). Here are some of our favorites.
+ Make a favorite meal together, use a recipe and allow them to do the measuring. Explain the numbers along the way.
+ Compare prices of items - prompt them to identify which is more, by how much, etc.
+ Have them count literally anything as you do things together - putting away groceries, collecting toys - anything you can think of. This builds number sense in young children, and can easily be upped to counting by 2s, 5s, 10s, etc.
+ Make a game out of measuring things for fun with a ruler, yardstick, or measuring tape. See who can find the longest or largest item!
+ Count objects, both similar or different, to explain odd/even numbers and ratios. Make comparisons between them. Easy and fun to do with candy!
+ Compare objects of similar/different shapes, ask them to specifically identify them.
+ Pose real word problems to solve together. For example, you could explain that there are more mirrors in the house than plants, and assist your child in figuring out how many of both there are and in figuring out the difference.
Three Fun Websites to Explore!
As we’ve covered previously, sites like Khan Academy are an excellent resource for parents looking to help their children become self-guided learners.
Khan Academy is unmatched in terms of replicating preschool mathematics instruction that replicates classroom lessons. However - how much it feels like a real classroom can sometimes lose the interest of some children looking for a break.
There are dozens of websites that are designed to make learning and math fun - often leading children to forget that they’re learning along the way.
Here are 3 websites to help your child see math in a new way.
1. Fun Brain
With games and activities broken down by grade, subject, and specific skill, there seems to be an endless number of games for kids to explore.
Compare equivalent fractions, build grocery lists, and complete skill fluency practice on the fly in games with beautiful graphics and animations.
2 Cool Math Games
This site does not feel like math is involved at all, and that might be its biggest strength. With games broken down by the sorts of thinking involved - strategy, skill, numbers, logic, and trivia, for example - almost all of the games feel like a ton of fun to play, hard to differentiate between an arcade.
There are tons of unique titles on this site that provide children with something new that keeps them coming back for more.
With titles such as ‘goat crossing’ and ‘papa’s cheeseria,’ it’s easy to see what HoodaMath is a favorite of many children.
Author Bio: Frank Festa is a freelance writer and educator based out of Philadelphia, PA.