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Making Math Fun Makes for Better Learning

Too Small to Fail
By Too Small to Fail

Toddler counting blocks with his mother

Math is everywhere. It is an important part of the way we communicate, and helps us make sense of our world. Children who are exposed to math at an early age do well in school and beyond. 

For very young children who are learning as much as they can every day, math can be joyful, and there are many ways that parents can build these important skills early on.

Just as with early literacy, early numeracy—or the ability to understand math concepts such as numbers, size order, and shapes—is learned through frequent communication with parents and caregivers from birth. And the more math concepts young children understand and are comfortable with before they enter kindergarten, the better off they are. Many studies suggest that children who enter school understanding math concepts like counting, shapes, and numerical order are more likely to succeed in all academic subjects of school later on, including reading.

According to Deborah Stipek, an early math expert and advisor to Too Small to Fail, children learn early math concepts best when math is made fun for them. She recommends using every day activities, like counting toes during bath time or the buttons on a shirt when getting dressed, to learn numbers. She also suggests that parents play fun math games with toddlers, like hunting for shapes in objects around the house.

Regardless of our own feelings about math, it’s important and easy to find the joy of math with young kids – and in the process, help prepare them for a lifetime of math learning.

Resources for Sharing:

  • Here are several tips for how to make math fun for young children, from Deborah Stipek and Too Small to Fail.
  • This article from NAEYC explains why early math is important for very young children, and how parents can help teach them in fun ways.
  • Other tips for parents from ZERO TO THREE on how to make math fun.

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