How We Build Math Moments at Home

By Françoise Lartigue, Ready4K Content Manager

We’ve been trying to follow a chore chart in my house.  I resisted for a while, mostly because I liked the idea of being able to ask one of my children to do something and watch it happen.

Talk about a high level of parental satisfaction!

Except… that it only occasionally worked out that way. Mostly, I would forget to remember to ask them to do the things I needed until it was too late in the day.

So now we have a chore chart.  It carefully lays out who is responsible for what.  And I am doing a pretty good job at remembering to tell my kids to “check the chart”.

It turns out the fact that things are getting done ALSO brings me a high level of parental satisfaction.

Laundry debate? Nope, math moment!

This past week the twins were responsible for folding the laundry.  I like assigning both of them to one bigger chore since they’ll either turn it in to a friendly competition or a game of some sort. And, most importantly, they complain less about the chore. 

After about 10 minutes, I hear the boys talking in loud voices.

“I definitely folded more!,” one gloats.

“No way,” exclaims the other. “I am a laundry folding machine.”

It’s amazing what 10-year-old kids will compete over!

Before things go from friendly to furious (as they sometimes do), I intervened with a question.

“How do you think you can tell who folded the most?” After a brief conversation about ways to compare the laundry, they decided that weight would be our measuring strategy. We would weigh each basket on our scale to decide the winner.

Basket 1 is placed on the scale. 10.2 pounds.  A presumptive victory dance ensues from one boy.

Basket 2 is placed on the scale. 12.5 pounds. Yelps of “oh yeah, I am a laundry folding machine!!” are heard.

At this point everyone is laughing, even our dog is jumping around.  “How many pounds of laundry did you fold all together?,” I ask. They pause for a minute before saying in unison “22.7 pounds!”  To which they announce in a state of awe, “That is A LOT of laundry!”

 “I frequently say the same thing,” I tell them. 

Compare, count, share, sort

This is just to show that math moments can happen just about anytime and anywhere! And as educators, we see these opportunities everywhere. We can also pass this skill along to our families.

When we help families see that if there is something to be compared, weighed, measured, counted, shared or sorted, they can make it a math moment. If there is a shape or pattern to be noticed – they can make it a math moment. 

Just building this habit – pointing out math moment opportunities – empowers parents to notice and build on these moments. Our job is to help families get into the habit of noticing these math moments.

Last week we touched on why many of us don’t notice math moments – math anxiety. If you are feeling your own pulse race at the idea of guiding families to take advantage of math moments, stop, breathe, and go read this post now!

And now that you’re ready to gather some fun and highly doable ways to build math moments into your families’ days, read on!

Math moments matter

Why are math moments SO important?  Math requires developing math language and habits of mind, as well as foundational skills and techniques. That means your students not only have to practice those math habits and skills to GET good at them, they have to practice to STAY good at them, too.

Math moments are the ways in which we help kids do both.

Unfortunately, the combination of the pandemic, math anxiety, and a belief in the math myth has created a perfect storm for math learning loss in children. The data is staggering – up to a year’s worth of math learning lost.   However, there is a way to begin to minimize this growing problem.

And it starts with families.

We know that families have a lot on their plates, so whatever we suggest has to be easy to do. In general, families appreciate low lift, fun and highly doable ways to support at-home learning. 

School-age kids need to flex their math muscles regularly to practice and solidify what they’ve already been taught. For infants and toddlers, finding and engaging in math moments provides the exposure to early math concepts that are needed to support their growth and development.  In general, families need low lift, fun and highly doable ways to make this all happen.  The easiest way for families to make math happen at home is by incorporating math into their daily routines.

So the question is: How do we help families do this?

At Ready4K, a third of every program is dedicated to Math. Specifically we build parents’ and caregivers’ ability to connect with their children while sharing math moments.

At all ages, and in a wide variety of mathematical concepts, we guide parents to help their kids flex their math muscles.

Breaking it down

In our infants and toddlers curriculum we cover:

  • Encouraging math talk
  • Building number awareness with counting
  • Sorting and matching like objects 
  • Comparing objects in daily life
  • Discovering quantity
  • Noticing and naming shapes
  • Experimenting with patterns

In our school-age programs we cover a wide range of topics that are aligned with the learning standards provided by the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework for younger learners and the Common Core when we’re writing for elementary age students.

For our PreK students, that means we cover:

  • Counting and Cardinality
  • Geometry and Spatial Sense
  • Operations and Algebraic Thinking
  • Measurement and Data
  • Scientific Reasoning
  • Science

And for the Elementary age students, we focus on:

  • Numbers, Counting, and Cardinality
  • Operations and Algebraic Thinking
  • Numbers and Operations in Base Ten
  • Measurement and Data
  • Geometry Numbers and Operations-Fractions
  • Critical Thinking Skills

And to spark engagement, it’s important to make those moments easy to access. Below you can see how easy it becomes when parents get a clear, actionable idea delivered into the palm of their hands.

Each day a clearer understanding is emerging as to the depth of the toll that this pandemic has had on families, children, and learning. As states and districts begin to formulate plans on how to undo the damage that has been done. We know that these solutions are going to have to be multi-faceted.

And we know you, and your families, have got this.


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