Be a math role model

You are your toddler's number-one math teacher. Try these tips to jumpstart her learning.

Learning Stages

By Candace Lindemann

Children's Author & Education Consultant

Candace Lindemann is a published children’s writer and educational consultant. She holds a B.A. from Yale University and an M.Ed. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. You can also find Candace blogging at While Candace’s degrees prepared her for a career in education, she’s found that the best preparation for parenting is on-the-job training.

From Day 1, we are learning and growing with our kids. Most parents know that they should read to their children. Mathematics is just as important as literacy, but too often we leave that job to the Kindergarten teacher.

Whether it is our own math-phobia or a mistaken belief that very young children are not ready yet for math, we delay introducing math concepts.

In reality, even infants come equipped with an ever-growing understanding of fundamental mathematical concepts (like "more") and parental involvement in early mathematical learning is key.

First, it's important to be a good mathematical role model. Let your children see you using math to calculate tips and sale prices, compare prices at the grocery store, or measuring for DIY projects. Even if math stresses you out, try not to let them see you sweat.

You can find ways to make math a fun part of daily life. Ask toddlers to help you measure ingredients when baking cookies. Count stairs. Measure distances. Divide up special treats with friends. Become your child's partner in exploring the world of math.

From the start, involve your child in the problem solving process. Instead of telling them how to find the answer, ask them how they might go about working out a solution. For example, ask, "How can we make sure everyone at the table gets the same number of crackers?"

Early exposure to mathematical concepts provides the basis for more advanced calculations, builds confidence, and creates a positive association with mathematics. Math is everywhere and it should be a part of early childhood, too!