STEM: How to help your kids love maths

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Maths is everywhere. It’s inescapable. We use it to tell the time. To budget our shopping and pay our bills. We use it in recipes and in crafts and games and yet in a recent survey from the National Numeracy charity, 43% of people say they do not want to improve their maths and numeracy skills. This is despite government data showing that half of working-age adults have the numeracy level of a primary school child. 

I had a fabulous maths teacher in secondary school. It was never my strongest subject but my teacher was one of those that made it fun. Problem-solving, challenges, and quick-fire questions kept us on our toes but also, he took the time to explain theorems and rules in ways that made sense – so although I’ll never be taking Rachel Riley’s job on Countdown, I understand enough to see me through and it’s one of those subjects I love because the answers don’t change. Languages have so many differences, history changes depending on who is telling the story, but with maths, however you learn it, whatever method you use, the answer to 2+2 is always 4. 

How to teach numbers to babies and toddlers

You can start early years maths at home in so many simple ways with babies and toddlers, for example, those activity cubes that we all end up owning will normally have a shape sorter on them or some bead counters. Kids love splashing and there are lots of ways water can be used to help teach numeracy skills. From measuring and pouring to floating and sinking. Have you seen those water beads that swell up when they absorb water? This post from BlueBearWood is a great one for using water beads with lots of maths vocabulary and discovering expansion. If your children aren’t quite right for actual measurements you can still use the different stages of bead growth to use words such as smallest, bigger and biggest and arrange by size. Or perhaps you can use them for scooping she pouring, just like M did in this post by Pondering Parenthood.

How to teach numbers to preschoolers

I’ve recently been reading a book by Maja Pitanic called The Montessori Book or Words and Numbers. It’s a fabulous book packed full of activities that will help your child (from the age of two) learn to understand mathematical concepts. It starts with basic counting to ten, moves on to sorting and grouping and goes up to understanding weights and measures. 

Activities can be set up using objects around your home and many of them have suggestions on how to take each skill a little bit further. 

How to make learning numbers fun

ScienceSparks has a whole list of fabulous ways to incorporate maths into science and other activities to make numbers fun and I think that’s really important. The element of fun can really help a child love learning. My favourite on here is the use of hula hoops to demonstrate Venn diagrams but have a look through, there are so many ideas.

If you’re looking for a fun way to learn times tables, check out this review of the Maths Rockx app from CrummyMummy. I can totally picture myself singing along to times tables with my kids in the car! What a fantastic and fun way to learn! If apps are your thing when it comes to learning, there is a great list here from Emma and 3 – which incidentally, also include the maths Rockx app!

Board games that teach numbers

However, if board games are your thing, there are a few good ideas in this list from The Money Whisperer. I personally am a big fan of Orchard Toys so it’s good to see some of their games included. They really super educational as well as being fun.

Home educating is becoming a much bigger thing these days. With access to information literally at our fingertips or answers at our voice commands, you don’t have to have trained for years to become a teacher in order to teach your own children. There are thousands of resources available to you if you choose this route to go down. I’ve used the Mrs Mactivity to help Dexter with his phonics but there are so many printables on there like this one for size ordering
This post from Freddies Mummy reviews CTC Maths, which is an online resource for homeschoolers. The grading levels and some of the terminologies are American but as I said at the start, it still works because maths is the same wherever you are.

How to teach a child with autism math

Starlight and Stories has a brilliant post here on how to make maths easier for students for autism. Just something simple such as breaking down what the question is asking can really make it easier and reduce the anxiety that comes with it.

So there you have it. Maths can be taught in many ways from a very young age. Whether you are looking at numeral recognition for your toddlers like this from Kate at Counting To Ten, giving the basic concepts of money to preschoolers like this wonderfully insightful post from Hannah at Hi Baby or encouraging your teen to learn to save and budget, there is simply no escaping the everyday use of numbers. 

I hope this post has given you some ideas. Please do feel free to let me know what ones you try and bookmark the page to come back to.

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About Leslie Rickerby

Leslie writes MessyBlog, a family and lifestyle blog aimed at helping parents teach their children life skills. She writes about a range of subjects from weaning to learning how to ride a bike and also hosts a range of reviews too.
Leslie works from home and is a married mum of three to Dexter, Paisley and Bridget.
When not balancing her blog, the house work and her three children, she also volunteers for the Peterborough STEM festival.
STEMfest is annual free event aimed at raising the profile and inspiring a love of science, technology, engineering and maths in children and teenagers.
You can find her on Pinterest, Twitter Instagram and facebook under @messybloguk) or on @pborostemfest on twitter and instagram