Math Is Everywhere

The following post reflects a collaboration with the National Education Association’s Raise Your Hand for Student Success campaign.


In kindergarten, math isn’t all equations and worksheets. Math is categorizing groups of friends based on how many letters are in their names. Math is noticing that the pattern on your shirt is the same as the one on your tights. Math is counting the crackers in your lunch, and the library books in your bag, and the birthday presents your friend got at her party. Math is noticing that princesses are made up of many shapes when you’re learning to draw them. Math is about playing school at home and teaching a grown-up all the things you’re learning.

Math is everywhere.

Math is in the kitchen when we count cups of flour to bake bread together. We measure and pour and talk about more and less and amounts and time. She rolls out the dough for flatbread, working a ball into a big flat circle.

Math is in the shapes of our shadows and the city buildings as we walk to our neighborhood cafe. We count the houses as we walk up our hill to get home. “Only four more houses!” she announces, “Now three!” There’s no better place to learn about spacial relationships, patterns, and shapes than outside.

She struggles with perfectionism which can often make kindergarten, and childhood in general, hard. The best cure, according to her amazing public school teacher, is to show her it’s okay to be wrong. If she draws a 3 backwards, I need to draw a backwards 3 too. It’s helpful if I also leave out the parental commentary about the backwards state of the number. I need to give her time to work it out on her own. We play school a lot. I’m getting better at my backwards numbers and misspelled words. She’s getting better at letting herself get it wrong sometimes.

“Okay, Mommy, you’re the kid. Pretend you don’t know what how to do math. I will teach you.”

“Okay! I will just follow what you do.”

“That’s very good listening, kid.”

She always calls me “kid” when we play school. I call her Miss Riley. Of course.

Kids spend the most of their time being told what to do. It’s pretty awful, if you think about it. Letting the child pretend to be the teacher allows the parent/child roles to reverse. This gives kids a break, but is also a great way for parents to see what their kids are learning. We play school a lot. It’s a great way for parents to work on their own perfectionist tendencies too. Ahem.

To read more about how parents can get involved in their children’s education, visit the National Education Association.

This post reflects a collaboration with the National Education Association’s Raise Your Hand for Student Success campaign. All thoughts and opinions are, of course, my own.

Author: Casey

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