Skip Navigation

Helping Families Teach Math to Their Young Children with New Cross-REL Resources

By Elizabeth Gandhi | August 14, 2020


Elizabeth Gandhi
Elizabeth Gandhi Elizabeth Gandhi is a senior advisor for evaluation and research at Education Northwest. She is part of the cross-REL team that created Teaching Math to Young Children for Families and Caregivers.

How can educators and schools support families who have unexpectedly become their young children's math teacher during the COVID-19 pandemic?

One way is to share a new set of cross-REL resources: Teaching Math to Young Children for Families and Caregivers.

Collaboratively developed by REL Appalachia, REL Central, and REL Northwest, these research-based math resources are geared toward children ages 2 to 8 (an important period for developing math skills), and they are grouped into five categories:

The resources also include information on how families can combat math anxiety ("an acutely negative emotional response to situations that involve math") and positively engage with their children about math concepts.

In each of the five categories, families will find an overview, as well as quick tips, resources, handouts describing different activities, and/or videos. Each handout provides information on the targeted age group, intended learning goals(s), and materials needed.

The goal is to make it simple for families to find activities that are appropriate for their children's age. All activities are easy to implement with household items and include ways to increase the level of difficulty as a child masters the associated math concepts.

The activities are designed to encourage fun (for example, making playdough and measuring the height of family members) and to reassure families that they don't need any specialized training or materials to teach their young children math.

In addition, the resources emphasize an important point: Math is everywhere. As the first video on this page indicates, something as simple as going to the grocery store or taking a walk can support the development of early math skills.

Although parents and caregivers are the primary audience for the early math resources page, educators may also find it helpful. For instance, they can use the resources to help engage families in their child's math learning, regardless of whether classes are delivered in person or remotely this fall. Additionally, educators may consider incorporating some of the suggested activities into their lessons.

REL Appalachia, REL Central, and REL Northwest encourage teachers and school administrators to share the resources page with families via email and social media. Additional resources will be posted soon!