5 Tips to Spark Your Child’s Interest in Playing Math

By: Beth Van Derslice & Maryrose Gray

This past week has been chaotic (in a good way) at the house. With both of our families together, the volume and the energy are very high. We decided to build in some quiet time to learn a bit more about how our children approach play with a cache of math tools. We didn’t want to force it, and we wanted our kids to lead the playtime. Our kids choose to play on the stairs, with the stickers and decorating the box. They had fun, and we were able to squeeze in some math despite this busy (chaotic) time. Here are a few takeaways that helped spark our children’s interest in playing math:

  1. Let the child choose the environment. We tried this and our 4-year olds ended up playing on the stairs -- and by “play” we mean decorating the COCO Cache box with number stickers and counting the stripes and spots on big cat stuffed animals.

  2. Let the child improvise. With all the distractions over the holidays, it may be difficult to keep your child focused on a math or logic game. Just setting out the materials and letting your child play is a great start. Here are some good questions to ask your child to get them in the mood.

  3. Invite a friend to play. Adding another person to the mix can help foster creativity and collaboration between friends. Or, it can end with a game of hide-and-seek on the stairs. If you’re lucky, it could mean that you end up enjoying a hot or zesty beverage with a Mom or Dad of your child’s friend while the children play.

  4. Invite a favorite toy or stuffed animal. No friend, no problem. Including a favorite toy can help your child feel excited (and you don’t have to worry about fairness or competition issues like ‘sharing’ or ‘winning.’)

  5. Offer a Treat. Let’s be honest, you know you’re probably going to be giving the kiddos a sweet treat or two, why not build in some anticipation for the treat by playing a quick round of “What’s in the Cup?” before cookie time.

There are so many wonderful things to do and people to see this time of year, but once you have kids, you can really say that about anytime of the year. So even if you are nonstop on-the-go, we hope you’ll find a few minutes to play with your child and bring a little math in the mix as well.