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Parents - Tip Sheets - Help your pre-school child succeed in math

More math … more fun!
Making meaning of math

For parents of students in primary school

Mathematical literacy is important to the success of children. It is a language and children need to begin speaking it early in their development. Here are some tips on how you can help your child learn the language of math.

A mathematical student:

• makes sense of mathematics
• looks for math patterns with numbers, shapes and operations (+, -, x, ÷)
• tries to understand and solve a problem in a variety of ways
• explains HIS thinking

Top 3 ways to show your excitement about math

1. Share your enthusiasm for math – have fun!
2. Discuss mathematical ideas with your child every day – ask a question a day.
3. Be a risk-taker with your child.

Identify numbers in everyday life

• Count cards, houses, road signs, etc. on long drives
• Measure the distance from the front door to your child’s bedroom
• Add the kilometers on road signs
• Sort objects (e.g., socks, cutlery, money) beginning with one attribute (e.g., colour, size), then move to more than one attribute
• Identify the geometrical shapes in the objects in your house and neighbourhood
• Time how long it takes to get ready for bed and estimate the passage of time to complete tasks
• Look for patterns in nature
• Use estimation in the grocery store to count produce or the cost of the family’s dinner
• Bake some muffins and ask your child to help measure the ingredients

Materials to use at home

• computer, software and Internet access
• calculator
• things to count and sort (e.g., beans, marbles, buttons, pictures, blocks, egg cartons, stickers)
• math stories, picture books and puzzle books
• board games (e.g., chess, checkers, Monopoly), puzzles and logic games
• cards, number cubes, dominoes

Technology supports math

Technology is global. It is a tool to be used in your child’s education. Surf the Internet with your child and explore the many websites that offer math learning opportunities:


You already know how important it is to spend time reading and working on math with your child. Finding math in children’s literature allows you to help your child develop important skills in both math and language at the same time.

Here are some of the benefits:
• Math becomes a part of your bedtime routine.
• Your child will learn important math language.
• Children who love math may become more interested in reading.
• Children who love reading may become more interested in math.
• Math becomes part of your everyday life.
• You can make math and reading fun!

Find the math in a favourite book

Sometimes the math is obvious, such as in counting and shape books. Interesting illustrations capture children’s imagination and open the door to a variety of activities.

Books such as Ten in the Bed or Over in the Meadow encourage your child to start counting. Find a pile of objects that can be easily counted – books on a shelf, toys in a box, pennies in a jar, cans on a shelf. Let your child count in whatever way is chosen, which may be by ones, twos, fives or tens.

Read The Shape of Things by Dayle Ann Dodds or The Greedy Triangle by Marilyn Burns and then go on a shape hunt. Have your child look for two-dimensional shapes (squares, circles) and three-dimensional objects (cubes, spheres).

Songs, poems, chants and rhymes that relate to math are another enjoyable way to find the math in language. You may remember One, Two, Buckle My Shoe, The Ants Go Marching One by One, or Hickory, Dickory Dock. Teach these to your child and have fun “singing math” together!

Look for patterns in songs and books. Many repeat lines or passages in predictable ways, allowing children to recognize and predict the patterns. Mortimer by Robert Munsch, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Eric Carle, The Napping House by Audrey Wood, and The Mitten by Jan Brett are examples of this type of patterning.

Other books provide less obvious, but wonderful math connections. Look for books where the characters measure, count, use money, estimate and solve a variety of real life problems. You could discuss measurement after reading Big or Little by Kathy Stinson or Sadie and the Snowman by Allen Morgan.

Cooking with your child is another great way to develop your child’s math skills. In books such as Grandma and the Pirates by Phoebe Gilman and Road-maker’s Munch by Josephine Croser, recipes are provided at the end of the book.

Think critically about math

When a character in a book comes upon a math problem, such as how to share cookies in The Doorbell Rang by Pat Hutchins, encourage your child to solve the problem before the character does. This promotes important math skills such as critical thinking and problem-solving.

Math lies within the pages of many books just waiting to be discovered! Read and enjoy!

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