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How Can I Motivate My Child at Home in Math?

Author: Athlene Whyte | Publish on November 10, 2020

Curiosity and motivation are key to math success.


But what if your child is not motivated? The first step may be to start a conversation to find out why and when your child lost interest in math. Listen with compassion and assure your child that you are a part of their team. Always speak positively about math, being careful not to pass on any math anxieties you may have. A part of your job is to help your child recognize how much math they encounter in everyday situations when they are having fun.


1. Share your own eagerness for learning


Your child is more likely to become excited about learning math if you are enthusiastic about learning in general. Help your child see that learning brings new discoveries and take opportunities to discover new things with your child in every area, including math.


2.Create a math journal at home


Have your child personalize a math journal and decide with your child how to use the journal and how often they want to write in it. For example, your child can paste in pictures, recipes, food labels — anything that relates to math in their daily lives. The journal should be a fun and creative process for your child. It could be used to reflect on how your child is feeling about math, or to write stories about the math they see during the day or in pictures. Older children can write about their math goals and make a plan to meet those goals.


3.Use the things that interest your child


What does your child like to do in his or her free time? Use the things that naturally motivate your child in their everyday lives to help them find pleasure in math. The more they associate math with fun, the more they will be motivated to do math. Everywhere we look, there are opportunities to involve math. Playing an instrument, for example, involves counting, patterns, fractions, and rates. Without being overbearing, take the opportunity to help them use math skills as they are having fun.

Picture of a dad and his daughter

Image source: Adobe Stock


4.Motivate your child through games


Using math as a part of their play and creative time will increase their interest in math. There are many fun games in which children keep score, count, play with money, and use analytical thinking skills. These include popular games like Monopoly and Chess. You can also make math learning time into a game. Did you know that Buzzmath is among the list of the 60+ Awesome Websites for Teaching and Learning Math? Look out for an upcoming article where we will do a deeper dive into learning math through game playing.


5.Connect math to everyday life


There is so much math in our everyday lives. Have children use common household objects or day to day situations to start conversations and create and solve math problems.


At dinner, you could ask your elementary school child, “How many plates do we need? Can you show them on your fingers? How many will we need if we invite the neighbors to dinner?


You could have your child sort kitchen utensils or laundry items. Discuss how they are sorted, how many of each, how many more of one item than another, and in what other ways they could be sorted. You can discuss ratios with older children, for example, the number of shirts to the number of pants they have to put away.


Here is a list of everyday items and situations, and how you can use them to explore math.


Pantry and Kitchen Items, Shopping, MoneyNumber SenseCount, Estimate, Calculate
Cooking, Coins, ToysFractionsIdentify, Estimate, Calculate, Compare
Clothing, Shopping, Driving, Cooking, BankingRatios, Rates, and PercentsIdentify, Compare, Calculate
Fabrics, Rugs, Tiles, Jewelry, Art, MusicPatternsIdentify, Categorize, Compare, Extend
Windows, Dishes, Furniture, Company LogosShapesIdentify, Categorize, Compare
Stair Rails, Room Corners, Streets, Street Corners, PaperLines and AnglesIdentify, Categorize, Estimate, Compare
Furniture, Walls, Toys, Kitchen and Pantry itemsMeasurement

(Length, Area, Weight, Capacity, Volume)

Estimate, Measure, Compare, Calculate
Coins, Toys, Laundry, Cards, Kitchen UtensilsData and ProbabilityCategorize, Estimate, Calculate, Compare


6.Make math hands-on

Picture of a child with a measuring tape

Image source: Adobe Stock


This could be anything from cooking to building something. Let your child have direct input so they feel as if they are in control. Let’s say you plan to paint a room, or build a table to use as a desk. Depending on your child’s age, they can be your helper, or perform tasks by themselves.


Older children may want to search the Internet for a “do it yourself desk plan” or create their own plan, for example. Children will need to measure and figure out the necessary supplies, and the cost. (Don’t forget the tax!) It will be fun to get the supplies, like choosing paint color, and putting on the final decorative touches!


Your child will find satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment every time they look at that room or sit down at the desk they helped to build! Here, you can point out the step by step problem solving approach they used for the project – much like solving a math problem.


7.Make it about the effort, not the result


It’s good to praise success, but it’s more important to praise the effort. Even if your child did not reach the desired outcome, you can tell your child that you are proud that they kept trying and reassure them they will eventually get it with patience and practice.


You can also focus on your child’s strengths. Children who may not be proficient in number sense, for example, may easily pick up concepts in geometry. As your child finds success, they will develop motivation. Continue to point out and praise the progress your child makes.


The bottom line is that talking about math and using it in fun natural ways will increase your child’s comfort and get them thinking about math in their everyday lives. This will inevitably stimulate curiosity and increase motivation! You can use a fun resource such as Buzzmath to help to stimulate your child’s interest in math.


If you feel like reading more interesting articles, here are two of the latest articles I wrote. Go take a look!

» How We Got Here And What’s Next

» Buzzmath Is Here to Help Parents

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