Math In Everyday Life




Parents fre­quently ask what they can do to help their child with math. I find that the most mean­ing­ful method is to seize upon those teach­able moments in every­day life. The fol­low­ing are some exam­ples that may or may not work for you and your child. It’s impor­tant to keep your child’s con­fi­dence level high. Pushing a child beyond what they are capa­ble of will do more harm than good, so take your cues from them and have fun with math in every­day life.


In an ele­va­tor
Notice the but­tons- Use the but­tons as a num­ber line, and ask

If the ele­va­tor stopped on the 4th floor and we hadto walk to the  6th floor, how many more floors would we have to walk?

Would we walk upstairs or down?

What is the biggest num­ber?

Compare sev­eral num­bers and put them in order from least to most and most to least

Walking in NYC
Looking at the street sign- we are on 14th street. How many blocks away is 10th street?

Getting Anything… Cookies, stick­ers, kisses
How many do you want?
What if I gave you
1 more/ less
2 more/less
3 more/less

Pretend Purchase
Pretend your child is buy­ing some­thing. Ask them how much they have? Then make up a price and ask if they have enough? Then ask how much more they need or how much left over money they would have.

Use actual pen­nies to work it out.


Compare points: who has more, how much more?

How much more does the los­ing team need to get to be equal or win?


Teach the value of penny, nickel and dime.

Count by 1’s 5’s and 10’s.

Count by 5’s and 10’s and then add pen­nies.


In the Kitchen

Your child may not be ready to add frac­tions but expos­ing them to units of mea­sure will be help­ful.

Do they know the dif­fer­ence vetween a tea­spoon and table­spoon? Show them how many tea­spoons equal a table­spoon. If your child is ready see if they can fig­ure out how many ways to get 4 tea­spoons. Play with mea­sur­ing.



Pizza or pies – ask ques­tions involv­ing a cer­tain num­ber of peo­ple eat­ing a slice and then how much will be left­over?

Throw in the word “each” as in if each per­son ate 2 pieces how much will be left­over. This requires three steps and under­stand­ing what “each” implies. First they have to count how many slices are in the pie, then add how much was eaten and finally sub­tract from the total. Using the real thing will teach this con­cept with rel­a­tive ease.

Cut things in half and dis­cuss equal parts.

Introduce halves and quar­ters.


Setting the Table

Ask your child to set the table but don’t give them enough. Then ask them how much more they need.



Board and card games are won­der­ful oppor­tu­ni­ties to incor­po­rate math. You prob­a­bly do not want to inun­date your child with ques­tions and take out the play….. but once in a while ask

How much more does one per­son have than the other?

How many more spaces to get to the end?

What do the num­bers on the dice add up to?



When you share some­thing with your child say: I have ___. If I give you ___ how many will I have left?


Once you see the oppor­tu­ni­ties you will under­stand that there are end­less ways to teach math in every­day life. Keep it REAL, keep it FUN and keep it going.






Kindergarten Tip: While Waiting, Stimulate Language Skills


I tutor chil­dren who are prepar­ing to take an entrance exam for kinder­garten. If a child is going to pri­vate school they usu­ally must take a test called the ERB. The ERB is heav­ily focused in lan­guage and even if a child is bril­liant, they will not score high if they do not express them­selves well. One activ­ity that chil­dren, who do not like to talk, find most repug­nant is list­ing prop­er­ties of items.

For exam­ple: Tell me every­thing you know about a dog, milk, the zoo?

A child may feel sti­fled and not be able to express them­selves even when they are com­pletely capa­ble. It is a skill that would be enhanced from daily prac­tice.

So when you are out and about, ask your child to tell you every­thing they know about any­thing. Use a visual that is in their envi­ron­ment. It could be a pic­ture on a bill­board or the real thing. Once they are com­fort­able with this activ­ity see if you can get them to eval­u­ate what attribute is impor­tant, spe­cial or unique and what isn’t. Saying a dog walks is fairly triv­ial com­pared to the attribute of bark­ing, it’s a pet, it has fur. Switch up the roles and take turns. Your child will love being the “teacher” and may get more insight from that van­tage point then when they were giv­ing the answers. 

Have a list of all the things you can do that is fun and edu­ca­tional and use it when you are wait­ing in line, in tran­sit etc.

Of all the skills tested on the ERB, lan­guage is one that takes the most time to ele­vate. Enjoy your time together and use it well,



Kindergarten Tip: Clapping Game

Entering the world of kinder­garten:




Old fash­ioned hand clap­ping games never go out of style. They are played all over the world, and often times with amaz­ing sim­i­lar­ity. These games engage chil­dren because they are men­tally stim­u­lat­ing and chal­leng­ing and can be ele­vated to greater and greater dif­fi­culty. I have fond mem­o­ries of my 6 year old daugh­ter play­ing with her 12 year old brother. This was about the only activ­ity they could engage in with equal delight.

Kindergarten Tip:

Hand clap­ping games rein­force at least 3 basic skills.

1. Patterning, which is a rea­son­ing skill, is the abil­ity to notic­ing what is repeated.


2. Sequencing , which is another rea­son skill, is sim­i­lar to pat­tern­ing but rather than notic­ing a repeat, one must observe how some­thing is con­tin­ued. 


3. The last major skill that is rein­forced is mem­ory. As the dif­fi­culty level pro­gresses it becomes a chal­lenge to remem­ber all the moves and their cor­rect order. 

Whether your child is prepar­ing for a kinder­garten entrance exam or not, hand clap­ping games will be fun, edu­ca­tional, and an oppor­tu­nity to engage your child dur­ing those times when they are search­ing for some­thing to fill their time.





NYC Parents of Kindergartners: Ask Why


ATTENTION all NYC Parents of Kindergartners:

Whether a kinder­garten entrance exam is in your child’s future or not, enhanced rea­son­ing skills are crit­i­cal for suc­cess in school and life. Reasoning skills hap­pen to be the #1 skill that pro­fes­sion­als look at when eval­u­at­ing a child’s intel­li­gence.

One aspect of rea­son­ing skills is called metacog­ni­tion which  refers to one’s abil­ity to explain their think­ing. When a child is in school and answers a ques­tion the teacher might, and should often, ask why they thought that. When chil­dren are not accus­tomed to being ques­tioned they typ­i­cally inter­pret that response as a sign their answer was wrong. A child will often shut down and feel embar­rassed  When a child is able to explain their think­ing it not only rein­forces their rea­son­ing skills but also allows adults the oppor­tu­nity to clar­ify any con­fu­sion or even deepen the child’s under­stand­ing. 

So when you and your future kinder­gat­ner are chat­ting, try ask­ing them why they think the things they do. It’s always inter­est­ing to hear.Often times chil­dren will say, I don’t know or my brain told me. This is absolutely nor­mal but don’t give up. Sometimes they will sur­prise you. Keep ask­ing why and help them along by giv­ing pos­si­ble rea­sons. Your child will become used to this kind of ques­tion­ing and will be ready to take on that entrance exam as well as be a more crit­i­cal thinker and stu­dent.

Future kinder­gart­ners in NYC and across the coun­try:  this is your future. Prepared to talk a lot about why you think the way you do. 

to learn more about metacog­ni­tion:

Enjoy the con­ver­sa­tion .…



Kindergarten Tip: Visual Spatial Orientation


Visual Spatial Orientation in this lit­tle puz­zle box.

Many chil­dren spend a lot of time play­ing but how much is on a screen?

Visual/spatial ori­en­ta­tion is the abil­ity to move shapes in your mind and visu­al­ize how they will look when rotated, or flipped around. Like all skills, some chil­dren are nat­u­rally strong in this area. Whether your child has this as a strength or weak­ness, expos­ing them to these activ­i­ties, espe­cially early in life, will ben­e­fit them as expec­ta­tions grow.

The G &T exam for NYC kinder­garten relies heav­ily on this skill.


The fol­low­ing is an exam­ple of how a child must become adept and mov­ing objects in space in an prga­nized and log­i­cal man­ner.:

figural analogies

The objec­tive is to notice how the fig­ure changes from left to right and deduce how the the next fig­ure will change. 


Kindergarten tip: aural reasoning or following directions


Aural rea­son­ing and fol­low­ing multi-step direc­tions go hand in hand and is a crit­i­cal part of all kinder­garten entrance exams. Doing well in this area is also a pre­dic­tor of school suc­cess as chil­dren who can fol­low direc­tions will under­stand a teacher and their expec­ta­tions with­out the need for rep­e­ti­tion.

To help your child with this skill, try to increase the num­ber of steps in your ver­bal direc­tions and bring atten­tion to your child’s suc­cess. Be spe­cific about your praise by say­ing some­thing like: “I asked you to brush your teeth and put on your paja­mas and you did both things all by your­self.” or “The direc­tions were to write your name, draw a per­son and a house and you remem­bered to all three things.”

There is a chance that this activ­ity could also help your child focus on coop­er­a­tion and inde­pen­dence. Woo hoo.




Prepare Your Child For Kindergarten: Reasoning Skills


Prepare Your Child For Kindergarten

Reasoning is a skill that is embed­ded in all three kinder­garten exams.

Today’s tip is specif­i­cally about math­e­mat­i­cal rea­son­ing and build­ing num­ber sense.

There are many oppor­tu­ni­ties to strengthen your child’s sense of num­ber in every­day life.  Try to help your child ana­lyze and think more crit­i­cally about num­bers when you are in a sit­u­a­tion where peo­ple have unequal amounts of some­thing.

Let’s say you dis­trib­ute a snack like gummy bears or cheese crack­ers.


It would be easy to ask one of the fol­low­ing:

Did you all get the same amount?

Who got more?

Who got less?

If your child is older, you can ask how much more would the per­son with less need to get to be equal with the other? If you ask the ques­tion a dif­fer­ent way it may be more con­fus­ing but that is the direc­tion you will even­tu­ally go: How much more did that per­son have? This skill may not be avail­able to your child at the present time so do not get frus­trated or press the issue. You can check in later to see if it is a con­cept that they are devel­op­men­tally ready for.

Elevators are a fun place to com­pare num­bers and us folks from the city spend plenty time in ele­va­tors. Identifying num­bers is a start but how about notic­ing how num­bers change as they get larger. What num­ber rep­re­sents the high­est floor? What num­ber is less than that. This is basi­cally a num­ber line in less lin­ear form.

Math is all around us. Why not take advan­tage of these nat­ural teach­able moments?


Visit me for more ideas that make sense.


Prepare Your Child For Kindergarten: Questioning



Prepare your child for kinder­garten while read­ing.

Reading to our chil­dren increases and enhances a mul­ti­tude of skills such as vocab­u­lary build­ing, rea­son­ing skills and sequenc­ing to name a few. But this is some­thing that you can do to focus on an explicit skill that will increase your child’s score on any kinder­garten entrance exam.

As you read to your child take time to explore the illus­tra­tions. Then think of a ques­tion regard­ing the pic­ture and turn the page. Ask your child the ques­tion and see if they can answer from their mem­ory. This taps into and strength­ens their visual mem­ory.

For exam­ple if this pic­ture were in a book you could ask one of the fol­low­ing ques­tions:


1. How many peo­ple were in the pic­ture?

2. What were they doing?

3. What instru­ments were they play­ing?

This can be very help­ful and fun but be aware that not all chil­dren may enjoy this. Please do not insist on play­ing this game if your child resists. Reading is too impor­tant to impor­tant to inter­fere with. There are many other activ­i­ties that can accom­plish the same goal. However, if your child enjoys it, it would be help­ful to include it in your read­ing rou­tine once or twice while read­ing a book.


Preparing Your Child For Kindergarten: Sorting



Prepare your child for kinder­garten by sort­ing.

It’s May 2013. The scores are in and fam­i­lies are explor­ing thier options for kinder­garten. 

Is it too early to start prepar­ing your child for 2014?

Actually, we pre­pare our chil­dren as soon as they are born, but to be spe­cific, what can par­ents do to stim­u­late their child with and eye towards excelling on the G & T entrance exam?

There is so much infor­ma­tion that can bog­gle the mind when it comes to this jour­ney.

To be most help­ful I will pro­vide just one tip and spare you any unnec­es­sary infor­ma­tion unless, of course, you ask for it.

Today’s tip is clas­si­fi­ca­tion, bet­ter known as sort­ing.

Seize any nat­ural oppor­tu­nity to sort.

For exam­ple: sil­ver­ware, plates, coins, col­ors, ani­mals, toys, socks.….…

Activities such as these will go a long way to teach the skills that will be on the test which is now less 5 months away.