Learning to love maths!

I hate math. I have always hated math. I manage to do enough to figure out my bank balance and calculate how to cut a recipe in half, but the finer points of advanced math remain beyond my grasp. When it came to the sciences that required some tricky math, I managed to memorize my way through, but I am the first to admit that abstract mathematical thinking is not my strong suit.

Having lived without this skill for my whole life, what’s the problem with the attitude conveyed in my first sentence? The problem is that such an assertion from parents could well sour the thinking of the kids around us. Researchers say that even mathphobic parents can raise kids who enjoy and excel in math, but that requires stopping the negative talk about math and mixing math games, questions, and observations into daily life, in the same way that they do reading and spelling.

Current research continues to indicate the importance of math to children’s success. A recent study indicates that math skills when children enter kindergarten are even stronger predictors of later school success than reading skills or even the ability to pay attention. And yet the most recent results in international student assessment show that American students continue to lag behind global peers, performing below average when compared with children in more than thirty other
industrialized nations.

So, besides avoiding the negative personal attitudes about math, there are many simple things that parents can do in the early years to foster understanding about numbers and spatial relationships. Very young children can learn to recite number by rote. Many a four-year-old can rattle off a string of numbers all the way up to fifty, but is flummoxed when asked to put a cookie for each of her friends on the plate. Table setting helps with this one-to-one correspondence, needing a plate, fork, and knife for each member of the family.

Helping children make connections between numbers and sets of objects—like giving five Cheerios for the number five—is far more meaningful in establishing math concepts. (How about saving an egg carton, marking a different numeral in each of the cups, and asking your youngster to put the corresponding number of Cheerios in each cup? That’s a fun, math-rich snack!)

Simple block-building games, encouraging children to replicate your stack of blocks, can teach spatial skills. Learning spatial relationships (like bigger and smaller or light and heavy) is linked to math skills. Think about all the items in your kitchen cabinets that could support this kind of learning play, like nesting measuring cups or lining up different sizes of packages.

Help your kids find the patterns that are embedded in picture books, like the red-stripe, green-stripe, bluestripe on the snake. Patterns are basic to math concepts. Make a game of finding geometric shapes around the house or when out in the car.

Here’s a fun outdoor game full of math. Draw a number line with chalk on the sidewalk and ask your child to hop to the number 4, and then to hop to the number that is two more, and then to the one that is three less, and so on.

Before long, you’ll forget that you hate math, and your youngster will be well on the way to math proficiency!

GROWING CHILD Inc., and is distributed free, courtesy of:
2, Springrowth House, Balliniska Rd.,
Springtown Ind. Estate, L’Derry BT48 OGG
Tel: 028 71365363. Fax: 028 71365334.
E-mail: headoffice@lifestartfoundation.org
Web Site: www.lifestartfoundation.org

You may also like

Infant Mental Health Awareness Week runs from June 13th-19th.           

This week provides an opportunity to focus attention on the wellbeing, social and emotional development of our babies and young children. It highlights the importance of early relationships and a relationship based approach to interventions with infants and families. As our understanding of IMH and its evidence base develops, so also does our knowledge of how to apply this knowledge and an ‘IMH lens’ to interactions with infants, parents and caregivers in health and social services. 

What is infant mental health?

Infant Mental health (IMH) refers to the healthy social and emotional development of Infants starting at conception up to three years of age.

The first 1000 days of life are recognised as a critical period of opportunity to support infant mental health. Decades of research have shown that it is the quality of the early caregiver relationship that is a significant determinant of the infant’s healthy social and emotional development and in turn physical health, right up to adulthood.


The National Healthy Childhood Programme has embedded IMH as the foundation of the development of its resources and in the approach of the delivery of the universal child health service. This embedding of key messages can be seen in the My Child suite of books (www.mychild.ie/books) and also on www.MyChild.ie  where key messages around bonding and relationship building have been embedded for the parent/caregiver.


In clinical practice the topic of IMH has been included for the first time in the National Standardised Child Health Record. To build on this, the National Healthy Childhood Programme have just completed a suite of three eLearning units which are now available on HSEland for healthcare practitioners / caregivers who are working with children and families.  


Throughout the week you will see videos and key IMH messaging being promoted on the HSE MyChild social media pages ( Facebook / Instagram ). Keep an eye out in the National Newspapers for articles from our experts also. (IrishTimes article)  


In addition The National Healthy Childhood Programme have developed a series of ten practical videos with HSE expert advice which are now available on YouTube and on the relevant pages on the www.mychild.ie website.

These videos (2-3 minutes each) are aimed at parents/guardians of children (0 – 3 years).

These new video resources are available here while lots more expert advice for every step of pregnancy, baby and toddler health can also be found at www.mychild.ie

There are a suite of posters available focusing on the promotion of IMH messaging to order from healthy.childhood@hse.ie

Leave a comment