Giving Your Kids a Strong Math Foundation

I am a math teacher by training, and it pains me every time I hear a kid come into my classroom already defeated by math – even worse is when the phone call home results in the parents saying, within the first thirty seconds, “I just wasn’t good at math either.”

Not everyone can be good at everything. However, a strong math foundation opens up many doors for kids, and even if you aren’t good at math, or always struggled with it, you can take steps to avoid passing that down to your kids.

A negative parental attitude, if your kid picks up on it, is an implicit way of letting your kid quit early in math. They’ll know that you didn’t succeed in math, and may get the feeling that they shouldn’t try. If this is you, then you can be honest about your struggles in math, but also why you wish you had been more successful. You can also encourage them to follow up with the teacher, participate in their math homework, and work with them to find additional resources – helping to get math help at All of these steps will help give math more value. You wouldn’t let your kids say “I’m just not good at reading” and quit trying hard, so give math the same level of respect, because it can create just as many opportunities.

You can also include math in your day-to-day activities, or when talking about other subjects. Read books that incorporate math (a simple search for “picture books that teach math” will give you many options), talk about numbers and comparing while you’re playing, have kids help you make recipe adjustments or plan when to start a meal to have it end at a certain time, talk about the connection between fractions and music or between geometry and art, and practice math using gross-motor skills as well (search for “kinetic learning” and math to get ideas).

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Anything you can do to give your kids practice with math and critical thinking skills will help their future educational career as much as being a strong reader.

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