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Math tips for every grade

Too many kids get math-phobic as they get older. Here's how to keep your child passionate about math from kindergarten through high school.

By Connie Matthiessen

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Kindergarten: Munchy manipulatives

In kindergarten, children are introduced to a range of math essentials. Your child will learn to recognize numbers, count objects, and understand number sequence (for example: 5 follows 4 and 10 comes before 11). He'll also learn basic shapes and identify them in his world (for example: "My bed is a rectangle. The sun is a circle.")

Do this: Place a variety of small food items — raisons, nuts, dried beans, crackers, grapes, berries, or whatever you have on hand — and ask your child to separate them into small bowls. Now have your child count three of each of the food items onto a clean surface. How many total items are there? How many will there be if he adds two more of each item? What if he eats two? Make the game low-key and playful. (Allow plenty of snacking!) Follow your child's lead; maybe he wants to shape the items into faces, or divide them according to preference, or stack them into towers. Encourage him to count out the items as he plays, ask simple addition and subtraction questions, and point out number sequences. The goal of the game is simple: hands-on, and tasty, number fun.