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Is Your Child Struggling with Math?

Jean Boylan
Jean Boylan

February 04, 2020 5 min read

Is your child struggling with math? You are not alone! This is a common challenge. Some parents believe that their own math skills are weak and that they too never "liked" math. Others have advanced degrees and math always came easily to them, so they don't know where to start. Never fear, there are fun ways to get over this challenge!

This is hard, this is fun!

Begin with the right frame of mind. Stop saying, "I hate math" (and I understand why you do, too) and start verbalizing, "This is hard! This is fun!" Help your child internalize the concept that the challenge of difficult activities is fun. Then, find ways to make it fun.

Flashcards and workbooks can work, but most children prefer games!  Educational games are fun and help support math skills! Some children need help understanding the way math problems are presented, and practice with worksheets can be helpful, but the majority of kids simply need help mastering the fundamental operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. For parents wanting to support math, this is the place to start. In some cases it might even be worth stepping away from frustrating worksheets. Give them time to master the underlying facts first.

Academics at home should always be fun and interesting. When learning at home becomes a fight and is stressful it's time to walk away.  No learning can happen in that situation. If you're having fun, your children will too.

Family Games

Family games can be really fun, inexpensive and great for developing everything from basic math to planning and critical thinking. A great critical thinking game or puzzle has the component of asking yourself, “What should I do next?” That is the same path your brain needs to follow doing math! Practice makes it easier. 


Basic Card Games

As adults you can model that playing cards is a fun thing to do when 2 or more people are together! The basic games of Crazy Eights, Kings in a Corner, Rummy, and Hearts can go a long way! Always nudge the children into higher and higher skills. Don't play "Go Fish" or even "UNO" when they are developmentally ready to think about number values and keeping score! Not only will the games become more fun for you, but their fundamental math skills will soar.

Math Games for Kindergarten and First Grade

If your five year old is struggling with counting, now is the time to count everything! Lots and lots of fun practice. From the  shoes on their feet to the Cheerios in their bowl. Keep it fun! At this age they are proud to learn new skills. Some children just need extra time to  internalize the fundamental concept of counting things! You can add simple problems, "I have two cookies and you have one.  How many do we have altogether? The more you can integrate numbers into their day to day activities the better.

Click here to read our blog post, Kindergarten & First Grade Math Games

Simple and fun games using dice and counting can help create focused daily math time. These games are all have a math focus and focus on fun rather that competition.

123 ZIngo

Fruit Punch

Peaceable Kingdom Board Games

Great Math Games for Second and Third Graders

A second grader is ready to play games that require more than the luck of the dice and moving along a board. Second grade is a perfect time to start keeping score – even without getting very competitive. The child should always be the scorekeeper! This is a great way to practice adding and subtracting. If necessary, you can even adjust the rules of the game to make scoring more interesting. Let me give you an example. 

Quiddler is a card game played very much like rummy. The object of the game is to build words with the letter cards in your hand. The players take turns drawing from the piles until one of them has word in their hand. They lay their cards on the table. (Help them if they if they need it – remember this is a learning opportunity, not a competition!) The first person to get a word wins the points associated with their letters.The goal of the game is to make words (not learning math) and the score keeping determines the winner after several rounds (math practice!).

You can even add subtraction to the scoring. When the player lays a word down and counts those points, the other players who still hold cards in their hand must subtract their card values from their overall score. Again, as the players gain confidence, you can increase the number of cards to build 4-letter words or try six cards to build two 3-letter words. For older children, you can add a “wild” card which means the number value of that card can be multiplied by a chosen amount. Now, the scorekeeper is adding and multiplying.

Tenzi has become a go-to dice game for home and the classroom. Each player throws their own set of colored dice looking for the winning patterns. The game can be altered 77 ways to make the play even more challenging. 

I Got This is a hilarious game of chance, skill and probability. Your family will laugh, they won't even realize that they are building brain cells!

SET  is a card game where all payers look for certain attribute combinations. It is not easy to get started, but once you get the hang of it, SET will become a favorite game for ages 8+.

These Games Teach Math Through Score Keeping

These classic card games are all played with a regular deck of cards. The play and score keeping help to support confidence and skill with math.

  • Go Fish 
  • War
  • Crazy Eights
  • Kings in a Corner
  • Rummy
  • Euchre
  • Pinochle
  • Hearts
  • Spades

Your children will learn more than just math when you interact with them to play games. They need your personal touch to build the kind of world view you want for them. They will learn to take turns, honor others, work collaboratively and challenge themselves. Remember, FUN is key to success! Your child will learn best if they are enjoying the process. Eventually, they will enjoy interacting with you rather that the computer screen - but it may time to remind them of that! Be patient, supportive and enjoy each other's company!

Click here to find an upcoming Games, Games, Games! or STEAM Night at your neighborhood Beyond the Blackboard!

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