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Tips how to foster your child’s math skills

To support your child’s math learning, you could engage in several math-related activities with your child at home. This research summarizes previous scientific studies about math activities at home and children’s math skills during early childhood (2 to 6 years old).

 The effects of math activities at home

Previous studies found different results, so there is mixed evidence about the effectiveness of the math-related activities:

  • Some studies found that more engagement in math activities at home was related to better math skills in children, but other studies found this was not the case.
  • Some studies found that formal didactic activities were better than informal everyday math-related activities (like measuring while cooking). However, other studies found that both formal and informal math-related activities improved children’s math skills.

The authors conclude that the best way to optimize your child’s math learning is currently unknown due to the contrasting results.

 Why do some children benefit more from math activities at home?

Not all children will benefit from using math activities at home. The authors found that the effects of math activities may depend on different characteristics:

  • Parent’s interest in math and their math anxiety: children whose parents enjoy math may benefit more from math-related activities at home
  • Children’s developmental stage and age: math-related activities initiated by children’s interests are more effective than activities that are planned by parents

 Tips

  • You could try several activities at home that expose your child to math content (see below). These activities will give your child the opportunity to practice their math skills. However, engaging in these activities will not guarantee better math skills.
  • Try to help your child learn math through everyday opportunities. Remember that math-related activities initiated by children themselves are more effective than highly structured activities planned by parents.

Activities that may support your child’s math learning:

  • Counting
  • Sorting objects
  • Playing with number flashcards
  • Talking about money
  • Playing card games
  • Measuring while cooking
  • Playing board games

 More information

Elliott, L., & Bachman, H. J. (2017). How Do Parents Foster Young Children’s Math Skills?. Child Development Perspectives.

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