Lately I have noticed how many math skills my son has picked up as we walk and bus around town. He is constantly noticing numbers, counting, and doing simple addition and subtraction. These are things we have never “formally” worked on at home. Here are 12 simple ways you can teach your child early math without even going out of your way:
1. Notice Speed Limit signs. This is a great way for your child to start recognizing two-digit numbers since they will see the same numbers over and over again.
2. Look for city bus stops. As you pass, notice which numbered bus routes stop there. Identify the numbers together.
3. If you are in a residential area point out house numbers to your child. Show them how the odd numbers are on one side of the street while the even numbers are on the other. Point out how the numbers ascend or descend as you go down the street.
4. If you are driving through numbered streets, point this out to your child: “We are crossing 14th Street…Now 15th Street…Which one comes next?”
5. Many crosswalks have walk signals that will give you the “Walk” signal and then count down how many seconds you have to cross the street before the light turns again. Notice the numbers with your child and count down together.
6. Point out license plate numbers. This is also great for letter recognition.
7. While on the freeway notice the mile markers. Count them with your child as you pass each one.
8. Notice exits and their numbers on the freeway. Point each one out to your child and anticipate which one is coming next.
9. Look for city buses or school buses with numbers on them. This is a great way to teach your child how to name two and three digit numbers. Simply point out to your child, “Look, here comes the 72!” It will turn into a game (games are good) and pretty soon every time a bus drives by your little one will be identifying the number on it.
10. Count stuff. This can be anything you see as you drive. Count the number of semis on the highway or the number of dogs you see in other cars. Let your child choose what he or she wants to count.
11. While stopped at a red light count with your child to see how long you wait before the light turns green again.
12. Talk your child through simple addition or subtraction. For example, you can count how many blue cars you see and then how many red cars you see. Have them use their fingers to add up how many blue and red cars there are total.
The real key to teaching your child math on the road is to chat with them about what they see and to make it FUN. Make it into a game and your child will beg you for more. Children are observant and eager to learn about their world, but they need your help to know how to organize it all. Before you know it your little one will be a real math whiz.
What are some easy ways you have found to help your children learn early math skills?