How To Teach Your Kids Math [Updated 2021]

Are you wondering about how to teach kids math in the most effective way? Do you want to know the best methods for teaching children maths? Do you want to help your kids succeed in math? If you are, then we are here to help you out.

Children develop math abilities from an early age, even before they are enrolled in pre-school. You may not realize this but children tend to grasp math concepts from interaction with their parents or those around them just like they pick up language without you having to actively teach them. Through observation, children begin to understand mathematical vocabulary, numbers, and concepts of basic counting, addition, and subtraction.

You can actually utilize this crucial fact to your child’s advantage to enhance their math skills early on. Teaching kids math early on will give them a head start in school. It will also boost their confidence and make their time in school easier. Teaching math to toddlers and infants does not have to be through paper and pen. You need to make it a very natural activity. 

Make sure that you talk math every day to your child and encourage your child to think mathematically as often as you can. Such a kind of teaching will boost your child’s math abilities in no time. It will also create a strong mathematical foundation for your child. The way to teach teaching mathematics to kids is the same as how you teach language to your child and depends on continuous exposure, interaction, and improvement.

In this article, we have outlined effective techniques on how to teach kids math. We will discuss important points on:

  • Key math skills to teach
  • Helpful tips for teaching kids maths

Make these techniques a regular practice, and you will see a vast improvement in your child’s math abilities. 

Key Math Skills to teach


The first math lesson in teaching children maths is counting. We use counting in our everyday lives and it is an important skill to learn. Counting introduces numbers to kids and is a way to understand quantity. Make sure to incorporate counting in your speech and activities as often as possible. This way, your child will pick up this skill in no time and they will be counting on their own. 

Activities to improve Counting

  • Start with 1-10– For teaching math to toddlers, start with counting will 10 and then proceed only when they are fluent from 1 to 10.  Read more about when do kids learn to count.
  • Singing songs – is a great way to get your children fluent in counting. Children learn better through fun and repetition.
  • Counting with fingers- Teach your children counting from 1-10 using their fingers.
  • Practice counting regularly- Make counting a part of everyday life like counting the steps, the number of trees in a park, the number of toys, counting money, etc.
  • Counting activities- Provide your child with counting activities and tasks like asking to put 3 apples in the basket during shopping or ask the child to count number of plates in dinnertime etc.
  • Counting games- Turn counting into a game between you and your child. And, don’t forget to give your child a chance at winning.
  • Make use of math apps: Math apps are great to practice counting through its kid-friend and colorful animations. Use apps like Counting caterpillar, Math Learning center etc. 
  • Backward counting– Also, practice backward counting while teaching kids math.
  • Interval counting – For older children, you can practice interval counting in two’, three’s, four’s, five’s, ten’s and so on. For example: 2, 4, 6, 8… or 5, 10, 15, 20… or 10, 20, 30, 4… This will help your child understand number patterns. And if your child masters this, he will have already learned multiplication. 

Recognizing Shapes 

The next step in how to teach kids math is learning about shapes. Our world is made up of various shapes and understanding shapes is very important to make sense of the world around us. Recognizing shapes is also the first step towards learning alphabets and numbers. By learning shapes, your children will be able to differentiate and organize the information around them visually. Shapes are also the foundation for understanding geometry later on. 

Activities to improve knowledge of Shapes

  • Start with basic shapes- When teaching about shapes basic math for kids, start with basic shapes such as square, rectangle, triangle and circle.
  • Move on to complex shapes- Once your child proficient in basic shapes, you can move on to shapes like diamond, star, oval etc.  For older students, you can incorporate advanced shapes like parallelogram, trapezoid, hexagon etc. 
  • Make use of shape-based toys, flash cards, books and puzzles 
  • Explore shapes in the real world. For example: The sun is round, the cushion is square, the birthday hat is cone etc.
  • Play shape hunting game: In this game, you can give the child a cut-out of various shapes and have them to find as many objects as possible corresponding to each shape. 
  • Learn shapes through art & crafts– Origami, drawing and coloring shapes, cutting shapes or making shapes with toothpicks are fun activities to reinforce shapes.
  • Learn how to draw geometrical figures– For older students, try various tricks and methods to draw complex geometrical figures. 
  • Introduce 3-dimensional shapes – Introduce kids to only 2-d but 3-d shapes like sphere, cube, cylinder, cuboid etc. How, help kids understand how a 2-dimensional shape is related to a 3-dimensional shape. For example: How a square is related to cube, or a circle to a sphere etc.

Understanding Patterns

Patterns provides a way for children to understand analyze a situation visually, understand relationship and sequencing, and make predictions about what comes next. Pattern recognition is important in teaching children maths as it helps the students see underlying patterns in the problem and formulate logical relationships through which they can solve complex problems. Understanding patterns enhances logical and reasoning abilities in children as well as spatial thinking. 

While teaching maths to children about patterns, you can start with sorting activities before moving on to pattern based activities.

Activities to improve knowledge of Patterns

  • Exploring patterns: You can also explore various patterns in nature or around the house together with your child like petals on a flower, design on a rug, pattern on bathroom tiles etc.
  • Sorting objects by size, color, category or shape– This activity id great for teaching maths to toddlers. For this, you can use everyday objects such as blocks, pebbles, toys, buttons, clothes, chess pieces etc.
  • Sorting objects by number– This activity requires counting ability as well. Marbles are great for this activity through you can use any object. You can ask the child to sort out the objects in groups of 2, 3, 4, 5 etc. To make it harder, you can ask the children to make a certain number of piles using only the set number of objects at hand. This activity will get your children’s brain working.
  • Repeat sequencing– For this activity, you can use various objects to make the children repeat patterns. Make sure to vary the sequences like in AB, ABC, ABB, ABBC, etc. This activity will enable the children to reproduce patterns and predict how it will continue. 
  • Guess what comes next: This activity will help the children understand the overall structure of the pattern and predict what would come next. You can also leave some blank spaces in the pattern and ask the child to fill in the missing object.
  • Correct the mistake: In this activity, the children will have to analyze the overall pattern, spot the mistake and then correct the mistake.

Learn about math activities for toddlers.

Number Identification

If you are looking for ways on how to teach kids math, then teaching kids about numbers is a crucial and important step. Math is based on numbers and without numbers, there is no math. So, number identification is crucial for children to begin their understanding of math. Learning math is based on this essential skill. 

Activities to improve Number Identification

  • Coloring numbers activity
  • Using number flashcards and number chart
  • Sticker Number Game: Asking kids to paste correct number of stickers to the correct numeral in number chart
  • Number puzzles and activities matching numbers to quantities. 
  • Join the dots– This is a fun activity to reinforce number skills.
  • Talk numbers everyday– Make it a habit to highlight out numbers to your child like numbers on money, house numbers, phone numbers, prices of objects, pages in books etc. 
  • Play Number-based games– For example: UNO cards, snakes and ladders, dominos, numbered blocks etc. 
  • Come up with creative ways to practice: You can also draw numbers on the sidewalk and ask the children to step on a particular number or write numbers on bottles and ask your child to throw a ball at the correct numbered bottle etc.

Writing Numbers

The next step in teaching children mathematics is reinforcing knowledge of numbers by teaching how to write numbers. This step is important for communicating math on paper and lays the foundational step for math skills in later life. It will help the children make connection between the how the numbers look like with the sound of the numbers.

For teaching maths to toddlers, start by guiding the child’s hand before moving on to independent number writing. Make sure to give the children ample time to practice each number and be patient. 

Activities to improve Number writing

  • Guide number writing: Have your child copy how you write a number and guide the child’s hand if necessary.
  • Tracing: Use dots and dashes as outline for numbers and make the children trace them.
  • Read numbers aloud– Have the children pronounce the numbers while writing.
  • Use mnemonics- Use rhymes, songs etc. to help children remember how to form the numbers. For example: Around and around and around we go – now we have the number 0 and Straight line down and now we’re done – now we have the number 1 etc.
  • Correct any mistakes early on- Observe how your child is writing numbers, your child may be writing 5 that looks like S or writing numbers backwards.
  • Practice until perfect: Practice each number individually from 1 to 9 until it looks perfect. 
  • Use various mediums– While teaching children maths, make writing fun by practicing in various mediums like chalk, paintbrush, or use sand, flour, glitter etc. to practice numbers.
  • Change sequencing: Practice writing numbers in various sequence to test if your child has really mastered number skills. Ask your child to write 5 or 7 and not everything sequentially from 1.

Developing Estimation

Developing a sense of estimation can be a difficult concept for kids to grasp as solving the problem exactly is much easier. But, while teaching child math, estimation is an important skill to master. It comes handy every day and prevents us from making mistakes. Learning to estimate will improve kids understanding of relationships between numbers, value and quantity etc. It also helps them determine if the answer to a problem is within reason. It is also handy while estimating budget, preparing food and planning shopping etc.

The best way on how to teach kids math and develop estimation is to incorporate it in day to day activities. For younger children, make sure to make the questions simple.

Activities to improve estimation

  • Use guess work – Use a guess-work based approach. For younger kids, you can take a handful of crackers and ask them to guess how many you have. Make sure the guessed answer is accurate as possible and it has been thought of. You can count together to check.
  • Incorporate estimation in conversation: You can ask your kids questions like how many apples we should buy, how many people you think are in the line, how much do you think your dad weighs etc.
  • Involve comparisons: While teaching basic math for kids, ask questions like which box you think is bigger, will this item fit in the box, which jar do you think is heavier, or which route is faster to reach school etc.
  •  Try different kinds of estimation techniques – Try not just estimating number of items but enhance your kids knowledge by estimating volumes (how many cups of water will fill this jar) or length (you can use a string and ask the children to estimate the length of string that will wrap around an object or denote length of object etc.)
  • Repeat, Repeat, Repeat: Repetition is the key to improve estimation skills. Practice makes perfect. 
  • Get creative: Use various methods to improve estimation skills like using blocks to estimate length of an object or using the length of their hands to estimate length.
  • Make estimation a hands-on activity: You can also put your kid’s estimation skills to use while shopping (which one do you think is cheaper) or during baking (measuring ingredients).
  • Use a number line– This method is great way to improve number estimation. For this, you will present the children with a blank line with only 0 at one end and 10, 100 or 1000…on the other end. You can make the child guess the position of numbers approximately. 
  • Apply estimation to math problems: While teaching mathematics to kids who are older, you can use math based estimation like how much do each 7 students need to contribute to make $40 total or how many 15’s will make approximately 272? 

Introducing Basic Arithmetic:

Children begin to perform basic addition and substation from an early age. Arithmetic is important in our lives and we use arithmetic operations every day. Through arithmetic, children begin to depend their understanding of numbers and how they work. While teaching kids maths, make sure to try various approach the problems from different angles.

Activities to improve basic arithmetic

  • Fingers and Objects– Make use of real objects like sweets, balls, marbles etc. and fingers counting method while teaching math to toddlers. Once, they get the hang of it, you can work with numbers directly.
  • Teach visual representation-Make use of dot method, arrays and area model to help kids gain a visual understanding of how arithmetic works. 
  • Incorporate arithmetic in games– Games are effective ways to practice arithmetic skills to kids while having fun. Learn more about engaging math games.
  • Make use of interesting resources– Make learning arithmetic entertaining through use of dice, dominos, UNO cards, playing cards, puzzles etc.
  • Make use of flashcards– Flashcards can help enhance memorization of arithmetic concepts.
  • Play arithmetic based games – Play games that involve some form of arithmetic like Yahtzee, Monopoly etc. Learn more about math board games .
  • Make use of math apps and online math games: Turn to technology and make use of fun math apps and online games like Khan Academy, Prodigy, Buzzmath, Twelve a Dozen etc. to teach mathematic for children. 
  • Invest in an Abacus– Abacus can help children understand all basic arithmetic operations- addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.
  • Make use of fun worksheets: Worksheets are short and some even have fun graphics, and it is great way to teach kids math without the boredom of text books. 
  • Involve arithmetic in your day-to-day routine- Involve your child in daily activities like paying for items during shopping, asking them to calculate the change, or ask them questions like how much apples to buy if we need two each for all the family members.
  • Focus on Order of operations, BODMAS rule.

Understanding number relationships

Another important factor is consider on how to teach kids math is teaching them connections between numbers. Number relationship is an implant part of teaching children mathematics, and one of the key principals of math. It shows how numbers are connected and helps kids understand how numbers can be manipulated and used in meaningful ways. It also improves number sense and ability to solve problems. 

Activities to help understand number relationships

  • Use visual methods: Make use of visual methods that help children understand number relationship in a better way. Some of these methods are:


Ten frame

Base ten

Number bonds 

Number lines

Area model

Bar diagram

  • Show them arithmetic relationship- Help children understands how math is cumulative and everything is built upon basic foundations. For example: Show them how counting and addition is related to multiplication etc.
  • Try multiple approaches to a problem– While teaching kid, try multiple methods to solve the same problem. This will help them understand that they do not need to memorize just one method but they can use various approaches to tackle the same problem. For example: For addition, you can teach them traditional carry method and also other methods like decomposition, rounding off, distributive property, breaking into factors etc. Learn more about these methods. 
  • Explain formulas: Help children understand formulas and the reasoning behind them rather than just memorizing it as a fixed rule.
  • Checking answer: Teach your kids strategies for to check if the answer is correct or within reason.
  • Teach Math tricks: Math tricks are a wonderful way to enhance arithmetic skills and deepen understanding of number relationships.

Read more about Improving Problem Solving Skills

Develop Math vocabulary 

If you want to know how to teach kids math, then take steps to enhance your child’s math vocabulary. Math has its own vocabulary and this skill is vital to make sense of math problems. It is also crucial for solving math word problems. Having a good knowledge of math vocabulary will help the child understand math problems more accurately, improve math reading and writing skills and enable them to express the problems they are facing accurately. Make this a part of lessons while teaching children maths.

Activities to improve estimation

  • Include math vocabulary in everyday conversations- For example:  This cup is 1/3rd full, honeycomb cells are hexagonal in shape, and the milk box has a cuboid shape contains 1 litre milk etc.
  • Practice metric system frequently– For example: Your waist size is 24 inches which is 2 feet, the distance to the park is 500 meters or 0.5 kilometers.
  • Emphasize relationships between quantities: Encourage your child to use words like more and less, heavier or lighter, longer or shorter etc. while comparing things.
  • Solve word problems: Get your children solving word problems and formulating correct equation, which is actually half the solution.
  • Observe your child’s vocabulary: Make sure the child can express math problems accurately using the correct terms or explain how they reached the solution. 
  • Reinforce math terms: Make sure your child understand math terms like more than, sum, difference, divisor, reciprocal, irrational number etc. 
  • Expand math vocabulary: Introduce your child to new math words to improve their range of vocabulary.

Work on Mental Math skills

Mental math is basically doing math in the head without the use of paper and pencil or calculator. It is an important skill to focus on while teaching maths to children as it helps enhance kids understanding of math concepts in a much deeper way. By using mental math, the kids will be able to calculate answer faster and with ease. It boosts brain activity, improves fluency in math and gives children confidence in math. Mental math also enhances flexible thinking and memory skills. 

Mental math can be difficult for students at first and you may start to wonder how to teach kids math. But, with regular training and practice, it will become easier and easier.

Activities to improve Mental Math skills

  • Promote mental math– While teaching children maths, encourage your kids to solve problems in the head and promote not using finger, calculator or pen.
  • Focus on math concepts and facts– Practice math facts and concepts till it becomes a reflex action.
  • Enhance memory skills- If the kids straggle with remembering and recalling math facts, introduce mnemonics like songs, rhymes, acronyms, stories etc. 
  • Practice estimation-This will help your know that your answer is within reason.
  • Simplify calculations- Practice skills to simply calculations in the head like rounding numbers, breaking numbers into smaller components etc.
  • Use math apps and games-Math apps and games urge children to calculate mentally.
  • Use mental math worksheets- Make use of mental math worksheets to teach kids maths. As the child advances, you can also use timed worksheets to enhance speed.
  • Teach math tricks and short cut methods – This will help children understand that math can be manipulated in a number of ways and spark their curiosity in math.
  • Memorize math tables: To enhance mental math speed, familiarize with building blocks such as multiplication tables, square root table, prime number table, fraction etc.
  • Practice in everyday life– Instead of relying on your phone and calculator,  try to calculate in your head as much as possible while calculating discounts, comparing products, estimating the change, dividing your budget etc.
  • Use Math puzzles- Puzzles help your child think mentally of a solution and improves logical skills.

You can also read our article on Practical Mental Math Tips For Your Child

Helpful tips for teaching math

We have some helpful tips for you below on how to teach kids math that you can follow to enhance your math teaching methods.

Develop a positive attitude towards math: 

Most people find math to be hard and boring, and many children struggle with math. Children copy their parents. As a parent, even though you may not have like math, never say things like “I don’t like math either” or “Math is one of those difficult subjects”. Always demonstrate a positive attitude towards math and encourage your child to love math instead of fear it while teaching children mathematics. 

Show the relevance of math in everyday life:

Many children think that learning math in schools is a waste of time. This is because they do not see the relevance of math in everyday lives. Math is all around us and we do use math in our everyday lives from estimating how much to cook, managing finances, making logical decisions etc. While teaching kids math, you need to emphasize on the importance of math in our daily lives. You can also teach children how math utilized in almost all professions in some form or the other be it banker, technician, carpenter, fashion designer, architect, cashier etc.

Build on a solid foundation:

Math is a cumulative subject. Hence, it is important that your child understands the basic concepts and facts thoroughly. Advanced math is based on these very basic math facts. If your child is struggling with math, it may be due to the lack of basic math foundation. Make sure that your child fully understand the current grade math before moving on to the next grade. Find the areas your child is having trouble with and work on them. This is essential to prevent any learning gaps and teach kids maths effectively. Take help from a tutor or talk to your child’s math teacher if necessary.

Make learning math fun:

Make learning math fun while teaching children maths and come up with creative ways to teach. One way to do this is to by using math games, math toys, riddles to teach kids math and reinforce math facts. There are plenty of ways to make math entertaining ways to teach math to your children with math like math card games, math dice games, math board games, math puzzles, math apps etc. Make sure you have some cheesy math jokes up your sleeves to break monotony.

Let your child solve problems on their own:

Independent thinking is an important skill for math. Be patient with your child and give them time and space to progress at their own pace. You may want to show your child how it is done as soon as they start having some difficulty, but this is not constructive way of teaching. Instead, when your teach kids math,  encourage them to find a new approaches or give them a subtle hints, or nudge them gently in the right direction rather than solve the problem for your kid. Try not to jam concepts together, force one method, criticize and be pushy while teaching. This will only leave your child more confused and anxious. 

Find out if your child is struggling with math

Your children may be exhibiting certain signs showing they are having trouble with math. It may be making negative comments about math, getting nervous during math tests, reluctance to do math homework or problems with money and time etc. Children may struggle with math due to various reasons like math anxiety, leaning difficulties, or trouble with a particular concept etc. As a parent, you must identify these crucial signs while teaching kids maths and address the areas of weakness immediately. 


Children develop math skills at an early age. If you notice carefully, you will see that even young children use math everyday like keeping count when they play games, deciding how much many chocolates they want, or counting how many cookies they will be left with if they share some with their friends, making sure that they have got a bigger piece of cake etc. They also easily understand concepts like full, half-full, far, near, more, less, greater, smaller.

This article summarizes techniques on how to teach kids math. Teaching your child new skills and helping them grow and develop is an important part of being a parent.  Children learn new things every day and it is up to you to guide them. While teaching maths to children, you need to show them that learning math is fun. You should encourage your children towards learning math, and be willing to learn with your children together. 

Have fun teaching mathematics to kids!

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