Numbers count. They appear in many forms in our Scriptures. Just consider these units of measure mentioned in the Bible: talent, shekel, span, cubit, pace, fathom, homer, ephah, and log, to name a few. Today, as in biblical times, mathematics is an integral part of our everyday lives. Numbers drive business and commerce. They play a vital role in almost every part of our lives. Like their parents, children need to know math if they are to participate fully in the world of work. A solid working knowledge of math not only opens career doors but also builds confidence in children.

How does math help us? We cannot tell time or manage money without math. We cannot measure anything without using numbers in some form. We measure how much food we eat, the size of our clothes, the price of purchases, the weight of objects, and our family spending with numbers. These are only a few areas where math helps us.

Think about the many geometric patterns we see around us for example: the spiral arrangement of seeds in a sunflower, the number of leaves on a stem, the temperature of the air, and the speed of wind. We use numbers to express them all.

What is more, we regularly use math to solve problems: How much will I pay for a dozen apples if I know the cost of one apple? How many dishes will I need for all my guests? How can I be sure I only use ½ a cup of flour and not a whole cup? Answering questions like these requires an understanding of math at some level.

How can we help our children learn math? Begin early. Make math an everyday part of children’s lives. Count objects whenever the opportunity presents itself: how many pieces of fruit in a basket, how many steps to cross the room, how many fingers and toes do they have, how many pencils are in the box. Let them see how math plays a part in preparing dinner, building, measuring, cutting proper sizes, and the like. Let them keep track of how tall they are getting. Compare big, bigger, biggest, tall, taller, tallest, fast, faster, and fastest. Use other math language on a daily basis: round, square, oval, heavy, light, triangle, and so forth. Ask them: Which book is smaller? Which rock is heavier? Which vehicle has more tires?

Include your child in everyday activities that involve math: shopping, measuring objects, counting things like stones, shoes, and people. Measure the lengths of string, the height of doors. Weigh how heavy things are. Show your child how you use a ruler, a scale, a calculator. Let them try to use them as they are able. Compare the various shapes and capacities of various objects: boxes, bags, dishes, cups, cans, for example. Let them see that math is needed everywhere.

Encourage your children to look for ways in which they can use numbers. Praise them for using numbers accurately or for correctly observing about size, shape, and capacity. Encourage them to be persistent when a problem seems difficult or when they miscount. Learning is a slow process at times, even for the very bright child.

Let your children know they can use math. Then they will grow increasingly confident in doing so. Start with baby steps at first – and of course count them – then slowly introduce more challenging math tasks. Give them simple problems to solve at first, then move on to more difficult problems when they prove they can handle the easier ones. Treat mistakes as opportunities to learn new ideas. Be patient. They will learn. You can count on it!

Gary Screaton Page, Ph.D. is the author of Being the Parent YOU Want to Be: 12 Coummunication Skills for Effective Parenting To get your copy CLICK HERE.