In the classroom, I often used cards and dice to teach math. It made math “fun," because students didn’t realize they were doing math. I thought about how funny that was, and began to wonder why we need to trick kids into doing math. What if it wasn’t about tricking kids into doing math but pointing out the ways math really *is* fun and relevant? Breaking it down into smaller pieces so that students can feel successful and build on that success to gain confidence is also key. We all know that if you don’t feel like you can do something, you won’t, so a positive perception of math is so important.

Where do we even start with this? Maybe math hasn't been your favorite either and you have no idea how to support your children in this area. Here are some simple ways you can encourage positive attitudes about math in your home and support your kids in their mathematical development:

** Speak positively about math. **You would never go around the house saying, “I hate reading. Books are hard and confusing,” if you want a child to be a strong reader. So refraining from talking about math in negative ways is important too.

** Play games. **Games involving cards, dice, or dominoes are especially great for math skills, but almost any game can be great for math development. Skills like counting, logic, reasoning, and problem solving are all crucial math skills that are used when playing games.

** Model math. **When you’re at the grocery store with your kids, calculate your total out loud so you are modeling using math in relevant ways. Compare the amount of cereal in two different sized boxes. Ask kids questions like how many juice boxes you’ll need for all the kids to have one every day in their lunch, or put them to work counting out ten oranges and putting them in the cart for you.

** Let them help in the kitchen. **Ask them to set the table for dinner. Making sure each person has a plate, a fork, and a glass teaches making sets and one to one correspondence. Cooking and baking together is great for math development. When kids are little they are becoming familiar with measurement, and as they get older you can have them do the measuring or doubling of a recipe.

** Use money. **You could give your kids a small allowance or chances to earn some extra money, and watch how naturally they are interested in math when saving to buy that new toy. Even something as simple as allowing them to pay the cashier at the store, or pulling out the change in your pocket and counting it together to keep them busy are easy ways to use math at home.

** Sort it out. **Sorting is a very important early math skill. Allow little ones to sort the laundry by color, or pair up socks. Putting silverware away from the dishwasher is another practical way to sort. It’s so fun for kids to sort their toys or books on their own too. Talk about why they chose to put certain ones together.

** Use the whining. **When your kids are fighting over who gets the bigger half, use it as a chance for a mini lesson on what the fraction ½ really means. Show them how there’s no such thing as a bigger half.

** Time it. **Using a timer to see how fast a child can get their room clean makes it a fun challenge and helps them become familiar with the concept of time. Talk about what time you are doing things, and point out the clock when it’s time for a routine activity like, “Oh look. It’s 12:00. Time for lunch,” or “You can come out of your room on Saturday only after the clock turns 7:00.”

* Learn about it together. *When older children bring home math homework that seems hard and unfamiliar to you, instead of telling them you don’t know how to do it that way, or complaining because it was not the way you were taught how to do it, say something like, “I’ve never seen how to do it that way. Can you show me how?” or even simply, “Let’s figure this out together,” communicates to your child that you are there to help them and you don’t have to have all the answers, but you just need to work to figure it out.

** Ask questions. **Ask your kids questions about how they got their answer when working on a math problem. Ask them to explain what they did. Ask questions of your child’s teacher if you don’t understand why something is being taught a certain way. It might be different than the way you learned it, but there is more than one way to get the right answer.