Super-Easy Ways to Boost Early Math Skills

Building math skills is as easy as 1, 2, 3 with these simple tips and games.
By Jennifer Geddes



Super-Easy Ways to Boost Early Math Skills

Working math into everyday routines can pay off. Kids who are comfortable with numbers in early elementary grades won’t freeze up in the face of tough math challenges later on in middle school, find University of Chicago researchers. “Math anxiety distracts students from learning and performing their best,” explains Sian Beilock, Ph.D., the study’s co-author.

No math whiz yourself? Instead of “I stink at math,” say “This is an interesting challenge!” Review your fractions, and model perseverance in figuring out problems. Then try these ideas together.

For Kindergartners

Count everything
Grapes at lunch, red cars on the walk to school. Throw a stuffed-animal picnic and have your kid count out cups and plates.

Go outside
Explore ideas of taller, bigger, and heavier with trees, rocks, and plants.

Discover math everywhere
Which glass has more milk? Do you all have the same number of crackers?

For First-Graders

Add differently
“99+99+99 is easy if kids know 99 is 100–1,” says J. Steve Santacruz of Mathnasium in New York City. Add 100 three times and subtract 3.

Roll the dice
It’s a fun way to add. 

Make fractions 3-D
Cut a sandwich in half — and then in fourths and eighths, too.

For Second-Graders

Introduce geometry
Draw an octagon or a rhombus in the sand or dirt with a stick. Count the sides and angles.

He’ll likely grasp “How much is three four times?” better than “What’s 3 times 4?” says Santacruz.

Don’t always start at zero
Shake things up by counting by 2s starting at 3, by 5s from 2, or by 10s from 15.

Shop Math Workbooks From Our Store

Math Activities
Age 7
Age 6
Age 5
Age 4
Age 3