How to help a child love math from an early age?

Some adults remember math lessons with the greatest fright, while others have loved the maths tasks from an early age and even now when they are adults enjoy solving them. 

“Give children non-boring tools to learn to count. The most important thing is the game, not strict training. Never force a child. Remember, at school, your brain seemed to be “blocked” by something if you had to learn something compulsively and without any fun. If you give your child a chance to count at every step of life and include a game, counting will become their best friend, not an enemy!”, – notices Laura Daujotė, a teacher at the Eureka early childhood school and shares tips to help a child love math.

Why is math important?

A well-known American businessman and a member of “Mind research”, M. Lefkowidz notes that mathematical skills are probably the most important basis for a person’s success: science, technology, and engineering cannot thrive if professionals do not have the basics of calculation.

According to Alexandros Louis, author of the Early Child Education Blog, math plays an important role in a child’s development and helps them understand the world around them.

However, not all children like to count and solve tasks that require logical thinking. A common reason for this is the lack of development of mathematical skills from an early age. In order for a child to fall in love with this extraordinary science – mathematics, not only teachers but also parents can contribute to it. How and when? Everywhere and always!

Look around the house

Sometimes we don’t even think that the home is full of things that can be used to develop a child’s math skills. For example, you can ask a child to count and sort forks and spoons when serving a table. Another fun and engaging task: count how much spaghetti pasta the child will be able to insert into the holes in the colander. In this way, not only logical thinking but also fine motor skills are developed. You can also develop your child’s maths skills in cooking. For example, ask your child to add a certain amount of groats, flour, or other products on the food scales. In this way, the child will learn to recognize the numbers and name them. When sorting laundry, ask your child to find a pair of socks and count them all. Sometimes you don’t have to spend a bunch of money on extra training tools, just look around your own home! 

Count outside 

It is amazing that every season of the year in Lithuania gives us simple tools to help develop a child’s counting skills. In the autumn, it is a wonderful time to count the fallen leaves together with the children in the forest, to divide them into colours and categorize them by size and type. You can also collect fallen twigs and compare – which is the longest and which is the shortest. In winter, it’s a great time to make snowballs and count them, build a snowman and, for example, count how many eyes, buttons, ears, and more he has. Spring is a great time to pick meadow flowers, not only for tea but also for counting activities. For example, you can ask a child to pick out dandelion rings and make a shape out of them, such as a rhombus, triangle, and so on. In this way, you will help your child to develop spatial thinking! Finally, summer is the most wonderful time of the year when we can calculate, measure, compare and otherwise develop mathematical skills. When you and your child are at the sea, compare the sizes of sandcastles, ask the children which bucket has more/less water. Summer is the time to eat watermelons! Count the black seeds and take pictures of them, collect the sticks of ice creams, which you will count later. Count how many seeds you found in an eaten apple or pear! After visiting the grandparents in the village, ask the child to pick a certain amount of strawberries. A child can help you with some housework and at the same time develop your numeracy skills!

Count on the road

Living in a big city sometimes adults don’t even think about how time spent on the road can be used to develop a child’s math skills. We often spend a lot of time in the cars during the holidays, and one of the biggest tasks for parents is how to occupy a child while travelling. The answer is simple – count! For example, every morning, give your child a task — count how many blue, red, or grey cars he/she saw while driving to kindergarten or school. Count road signs – how many of them were triangular, circular or rectangular? On further trips, you can count the trees, count the carrots, cookies or other food in the snack boxes! For children aged 2 to 3, you can ask every day which day today is and ask them to show the number with their fingers. For example, if today is Friday, the child will show five fingers, if Monday, one.