A solid foundation in mathematics is essential if students are going to excel in math later on. Parents of first graders can either teach math at home if homeschooling, or work with their children after school to help them master the concepts taught by the first grade teacher. You'll need a variety of lessons and activities on counting, recognizing patterns, identifying shapes, adding, subtracting and telling time.
Look around your house for items your child can count. First graders are expected to be able to count up to 100. Items like paper clips, Skittles, M&Ms, chocolate chips and pennies are perfect for teaching and reinforcing numbers up to 100.
Introduce the symbols for greater than, less than and equal to. Now that your child understands numbers up to 100, he should be able to tell you that 58 is smaller than 60 or that 8 is larger than 2. One way to help children remember the correct symbol to use is to turn the greater than and less than sign into Pac-Man. Let your child know that the Pac-Man always eats the larger number.
Make multiple cut-outs of your child's favorite objects. If your daughter likes teddy bears, draw and cut out 10 small teddy bears. If your son likes tractors, cut out 10 small tractors. Use these objects to teach your child how to add and subject. Use real examples. You can tell your daughter that she has three teddy bears, but then one teddy bear gets chewed by the family dog. How many teddy bears does she have now? Ask your son how many tractors there would be if he had four and his father brought home two more. Keep working different problems until your child masters addition and subtraction.
Create a clock with moveable hands out of a paper plate and some card stock. Write the numbers around the paper plate so that it looks just like a real clock. Cut out a small arrow and a medium arrow from card stock. Attach them to the center of the paper plate with a paper fastener. Practice adding and subtracting minutes by moving the arrows (clock hands). Give your child different scenarios and allow him to use the homemade clock to find the answers. Tell your child it is 1 p.m. and wait for him to set the clock to that time. Then tell him nap time is in 30 minutes. Watch him move the clock hand 30 minutes so that he can see nap time is at 1:30 p.m.
Go on a scavenger hunt around your home and identify objects of the following four basic shapes: circle, square, rectangle and triangle. Your child should see that a ball has the circle shape, while a book is the same shape as the rectangle. You can also continue this activity when you leave the house. The supermarket is an ideal place for finding objects of various shapes.
Create a few patterns on paper out of shapes and colors. First graders need to learn how to spot patterns and list what should come next in the pattern. So if you have a blue square and a red circle repeated on the page, ending with a blue square, your child should be able to tell you that a red circle comes next. After your child understands patterns, look for real-life patterns. Sometimes homemade quilts follow a pattern. Even calendars follow a pattern of Sunday through Saturday.
Measure and weigh objects around the house. Children learn best with hands-on activities and your home will no doubt contain plenty of items that you can use to teach measuring. Use a ruler to see how many inches longer a pencil is to a paper clip or a scale to determine if a paper weight is heavier than a fork. Keep trying new combinations until the concept is mastered.
Reinforce what you are teaching your first grader at home using online sites. You can get a subscription to a site like Time4Learning or use free sites like Funbrain and AAA Math. These sites are attractive to children because they contain interactive games. First grade students will feel more like they are playing a video game than learning their math facts.
- Although hands-on activities work best, create and review addition and subtraction flash cards once per day to reinforce the lessons.
- Follow your child's pace. Not all children learn at the same rate, so don't push your child to move on to the next concept if she isn't ready.
- California Department of Education: Mathematics Content Standards for California Public School Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve
- The University of Chicago School Mathematics Project: 1st Grade: Everyday Mathematics at Home
- Scholastic: The 10 Best Ways to Help Your 1st-Grader Succeed in School
- Great Schools: What to Expect in First Grade
- BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images