There is a TON of information out there and parents are resourceful. So I'm not going to list everything. Instead, this is a list of the things that I recommend the most often to people who feel lost. These websites are free, comprehensive, and a great place to wade around in to get a feel for the language and topics of mathematics as well as a way to discover out-of-the-box places to find mathematics.
Step 1: Dip Your Toe In
The first and most important thing you can do to approach math with your child is to be brave.
So let me say this to encourage you: it is OK you don't know math, what is important is that you show your child what it looks like to try. Start by looking for these things as they come up in your day:
- Figuring stuff out
When you notice those things (or your child does) then talk about it with him or her. Sometimes the conversations will be fleeting, other times a little longer. There is no real minimum or maximum time here. The goal is to notice math and talk about it a little bit every day. Knowledge will build slowly and steadily.
After you open up to math in those small ways then you will be able to approach math with your child with more confidence!
Step 2: Explore Informal Math
One of the best ways to infuse math into your lives is to strew, or leaving little invitations around for curious kids to find and investigate. The following websites are collections of books, games, and toys & tools that I have curated for you.
- I have listed over 100 books about math on the Boco Learning website and add to it whenever I find a new great read: https://bocolearning.com/collections/books
- The Mathical Book Prize is awarded by the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI), in partnership with the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), and in coordination with the Children’s Book Council (CBC). https://bocolearning.com/blogs/news/mathical-book-prize-collection
More than two dozen board games and card games that feature math including logic, geometry, arithmetic, and more: https://bocolearning.com/collections/games
Not sure what you might discover? Here is an example of the Distributive Property as it came up while playing Bears vs. Babies:
Musical instruments, building toys, and tools for measuring length, volume, and time are great things to have in your home to encourage big juicy math conversations. https://bocolearning.com/collections/toys-for-vips
Step 3: Tackle Academic Math
With all the experience with informal math learned through strewing, academic math will be easier. That is because if your child already knows the concepts from play, then all they have to learn is the academic representation of those concepts. (They know what 12 cupcakes looks like and that the cupcake pan has three rows of four, then they will learn quickly 3 x 4 = 12 and 4 x 3 = 12.)
When you are ready to step into more formal math, here are some places to start. (I recommend waiting until your kid is eight years old or begging for more.)
Ever since I began teaching at communities colleges, I have recommended the Khan Academy. My favorite thing is that they offer short, sweet videos to explain the topics in math in bite-sized chunks. If your family exhausts the Khan Academy math lessons then you will be all set.
Finding a Course of Study
If the Khan Academy doesn't do it for you, then take a peek at these descriptions for the scope and sequence that is expected for our children. It will help you know what to look for in other math lessons out there. But before you do, I want to caution you from making a lot of comparisons between your children and these lists. In my experience, learning comes in fits and starts and happens best when the child is ready.
- The Common Core Descriptions for Math: The authors of this page take their time to explain all aspects of math learning, including "soft" skills like persistence and problem-solving.
- The Worldbook.com Typical Course of Study: For math-savvy people, the bullet lists for each grade level are succinct. Find the grade level by using the following link and changing the numeral to what you're looking for... (This is for grade 4. For grade 11, change the '4' to '11.') https://www.worldbook.com/typical-course-of-study-for-grade-4.aspx#math
Don't tackle worksheet math from the get-go. Start simply and small with your own math learning as it comes up in life. Play with it on your own and with your children. Then everyone will be more prepared to approach academic math (digitally or not). This is true even if you hire someone else to teach the nitty-gritty of math! Your courage will lead the way into the subject that stops other parents (and their families) in their tracks.
No one should slave over worksheets so I wrote the guide for learning math from everyday life...because when the world is your classroom you are free to learn math that matters.
Get started for free today.
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