Help your kids love math, even if you don't |


Some people are simply math lovers. Many parents have a knack for numbers and can’t wait to share in the joys of fractions, decimals and differential equations with their kids. Others may recall their own struggles with math in school and dread the day their kids ask for help with math homework.

Whatever your personal feelings towards math, one thing is true: Math is a huge part of your child’s life in school and beyond, and YOU set the example when it comes to modeling a positive math attitude.

So what is the secret to raising kids who don’t fear geometry or algebra (or, heck, even advanced calculus)? Here are some age-appropriate ideas to encourage and inspire your future mathematician.

Show that math is everywhere. Point out the math in everyday activities and empower your little ones to find solutions. Even young kids can participate in activities such as measuring when cooking (double that recipe!), making correct change and estimating. Other ideas include:

  • Ask your child to figure out when to leave for destinations by explaining what time you need to arrive and how long it takes to get there.
  • Tell your child you have six quarters and ask how many dimes that equals.
  • Use “times 10” to find other multiples. ”Times 5” is half of “times 10.”  “Times 20” is double “times 10.”
  • Half of a number can be found by summing halves of parts of the number. Half of 87 = Half of 80 + half  of 7 = 40 + 3 ½ = 43 ½.

Build strong math foundations at an early age. Chicago-area schools use many different math curriculums but the ultimate goal is the same: Build a strong math foundation for kids and prepare them for the next level. The reality is kids learn math in different ways, and sometimes a certain teacher or approach might not be the right fit for a particular child. The good news is that there are local math enrichment programs available with highly qualified instructors who can work with kids needing remediation and kids needing more challenging work. Local math learning centers have experience working with kids with a huge range of learning styles and they can ensure each student achieves that strong math foundation that is so critical as they progress through school.

Tackle test prep head on and early on. For many Chicago students, testing is a significant part of their school experience. Students sit for standardized tests and admission tests at a variety of stages in their academic careers. This process can be unnecessarily stressful and challenging for our kids. Students often possess any number of “knowledge gaps” that are huge opportunities to improve both test scores and general academic performance.  Take advantage of available resources to identify and fill these gaps sooner than later.  Students with a solid foundation will get the most out of test-specific preparation and experience less test stress.

Model a love of math. Kids follow our lead when it comes to most things—including academics. Invest time with your child—whether it be working on math flash cards together or simply playing a math-focused game together as a family. Maximize conceptual understanding and minimize a reliance on rote memorization. With understanding comes passion! Celebrate their math successes and support their interests wherever you can. Who knows, you may learn a new thing or two about math along the way, as well!

Mathnasium, the nation’s leading math-only learning center, offers fun and effective supplementary math programs for children in preschool through grade 12 using the proprietary Mathnasium Method™, the result of 40+ years of hands-on instruction and research. Chicago is home to three Mathnasium Learning Centers: Ravenswood, West DePaul and West Loop. For more information, please visit

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Posted on January 12, 2017 at 10:09 AM