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How to Make Learning Math Fun and Interesting in Young Children

This article was written as a response to the question: How to Make Learning Math Fun?
Some children struggle to learn math so their teacher or parent must find ways to make learning math interesting and fun.

Math can be especially challenging for some children, and totally boring for others. Helping a child learn also means finding a way to make them want to learn.

Find your childs natural interest. Some kids are interested in animals, others in cars, or even computer games. Take their natural interests and use them to make math interesting.

The first math children learn is counting. As such you should count things that your children like. If they like animals find toy animals and start counting them. If they like cars, do the same with toy cars, or start counting them as they drive by.  Go for a walk, count the trees, or dogs, or whatever. 

You can even add to this by counting specific types of things. If you have a variety of toy animals, have them count the farm animals as one group, and the wild animals as an other. With vehicles, have them count cars as one group, trucks as another. Then have them determine which there are more of. Comparing less and more is a simple part of math, but it makes counting fun.

Adding can be introduced with small numbers, first 1+1 = 2. Do this by having a few of the kids favorite things “Here is one stuffed animal, now if we add one, what do we have?”. Increase this by starting with two, and adding one. Mix it up by starting with one and adding two.

chickens and sheep

Photo by Author.  Have the child count the sheep, have them count the hens.  Have them add them together.

By the time they can add things up to five, you can introduce subtraction. “If we had five cars and one drove away, how many cars would we have?” Keep the thoughts pleasant, if you are using toy animals don't suggest “.. and one died” as a subtraction means. Although death happens, when mentioned here it makes leaning math sad. Instead use “.. and one went into the barn” or a similar idea.

Multiplication can be used by counting parts of an object and multiplying with the number of objects. How many eyes does a cat have, and how many cats? Again start with small numbers, 2 x 1 = 2. Expand this as a child is ready.

Division is trickier to learn but again use a fun example and make it interesting. Ask the child “If we have $4 and each toy costs $2 (tax included), how many toys can we buy?” You can help a child visualize this by making price tags and having the child think it out with pretend (or real) money.

Tips

In addition to talking through all math problems, write them on paper as numbers, helping your child understand the math involved.

Quit when ahead. If you push your child too far, too fast, their brain shuts off and they become frustrated. Many people get excited when their child is doing well and keep going, but this can back fire, so keep lessons short, and end on a positive.

Several mini-lessons on math throughout the day may work better than one long one.  For example you might go for a walk and count and add up the number of cats you see to the number of dogs you see, then later in the day you might count the birds in your back yard and add them to the number of birds you saw the day earlier.

When introducing math, do it as a game, rather than as a lesson, making it fun.

Even though math is covered in school, a well minded parent will introduce these lessons at home, indeed it is very important for homeschooling parents to be familiar with how to make math interesting and fun. For homeschooling parents it might even be more important to make the lessons fun, rather than structured, at least to begin with, unless the childs mind is more focused on learning such skills.

It is very important not to get stressed if the child is struggling.  This will get them upset and will create anxiety in the child as they try to please you.  If you show that you are stressed it will make learning math unpleasant for the child and will make them loose interest fast.  Again, if you quit on a positive both you and your student will enjoy the process.

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Comments (4)

All good tips and strategies applying math techniques and concepts for our children. Making the exercise fun is one key aspect to teaching and learning the importance of math studies. Great share!

leverton Lisa

Loved this! what a fun way to start young children.

Great tips. Wish I had a fun way to learn when I was little.

We use this activity based teaching for Maths and English subjects at our junior level classes and it produces a highest rate of success in learning among students.

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