SchoolFamily Voices

Connie McCarthy is passionate about her work as a teacher of young children. She has devoted her entire career to making sure that her students do well at school, right from the start. Connie has an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education, and a Master’s Degree in Special Education. She has been teaching first grade in East Providence, R.I. for 23 years, where she received the distinction of “Highly Qualified Teacher” by the Rhode Island State Board of Regents. Connie also taught nursery school for four years, and published numerous articles on early education in East Bay Newspapers in Bristol, R.I. She’s also been published in PTO Today Magazine. She lives with her husband, Brian, and has a daughter and a son, both young adults. Connie enjoys reading, writing about elementary education, and taking long walks with friends. During summer vacations, she likes to travel with her husband. She also loves reading readers’ comments on her weekly blog posts.

How to Help your Child Make Math Connections

Grocery ShoppingWe use math skills each and every day. We follow a pattern when we commute to work, when we calculate change from our purchases, or when we check the temperature, etc.

The key to helping your young child understand math is to make math part of their everyday life.

Here are six simple ways to practice skills and incorporate math in your child’s daily life:

  • Together look for visual patterns in your home or neighborhood, such as tile in a bathroom, or bricks on a walkway.
  • Have your child practice counting forward. Count 0-50 for Kindergarten students, 0-100 for First Graders. Once your child can say these numbers easily, write the numerals on a 4x6 index card, one card for each number. Then have your child read the cards and place them down in order, as she says the numbers.
  • Once your child is secure in counting forwards, practice the pattern of counting backwards. Confidently counting backwards helps your child understand the concept of comparing numbers and the relationship between numbers. For example, 20 is more than 18, or 9 is less than 12.
  • Have your child practice recognizing and identifying shapes. You can do this at home or just about anywhere you are together. Use describing words, for example a triangle has three sides and three corners, a circle has no sides and no corners.
  • Help your child understand addition as "putting things together", and subtraction, as "taking things apart." Practice this by using small objects such as pennies, cheerios, raisins, etc. "If I have 3 pennies and I add 4 more, how many do I have now? Conversely, if I have 12 cheerios, and I eat 7, how many do I have left?"
  • Practice "skip counting" together. Count by 10’s, 5’s and 2’s, both forward and backward until your child is comfortable with the pattern for each.

Math is everywhere! When you follow a recipe, buy groceries, or put fuel in your car, you are using math skills. Helping your child make a math connection to daily life gives math importance, meaning and purpose.

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