Learn Math from Everyday Objects
Your child can build an understanding of addition, subtraction, and the other math concepts she is learning in 1st grade by playing with everyday objects. Use items that she enjoys playing with, such as Legos, and place them into two groups of unequal number. Place the larger grouping on the left to develop the habit your child will need later for subtracting from left to right. Next, ask your child to add objects to the smaller group from the larger group until she counts the same number in both groups. As with all math activities, don't push it if your child resists, since math development varies greatly from child to child and she may just not be ready for certain concepts.
Count with Items
Count using items like blocks, pennies, and candy. Have some items handy for counting by ones and by tens. You can use interlocking blocks that allow students to connect 2 blocks to 3 blocks to represent 2 + 3. Use regular household items like pennies for counting by ones, and dimes for counting by tens.
Develop Estimation Skills
When things are stored or poured into varying size containers you have an opportunity to build your child's concept of estimation and quantity. At breakfast, ask her which bowl has more and which has less cereal. Ask her to compare the different amounts of the same liquid in three clear glasses by lining them up from least to most full. To build your child's vocabulary of comparisons, after successful practice use measuring cups with numbers. Ask her what she notices about the number each liquid reaches in the measuring cup when they are lined up in sequence from least to most and then from most to least full.
Read Math Problems Aloud
Help your child by reading math problems aloud slowly and carefully, so she can hear the problem and think about what is being asked. If she can read, have her read them.
Use Real Money
Children become so accustomed to seeing their parents pay with credit and debit cards that counting actual money can be an unfamiliar practice. Engage your child in the transaction of buying things at the store, allowing her to pay with cash and to count the change. This will help not only with her math skills but will foster an understanding of the concepts of saving and spending.
Reward Effort for Math
Speak positively about math and reward effort, rather than grades or ability. Think about how important reading is and how we are told to model this behavior for our children. We need to place math in the same category. Don't discount the importance of math by saying, "I'm not a math person, I was never good at math." Help your child read books that incorporate math, such as Millions of Cats, by Wanda Gag or On Beyond a Million, by David Schwartz.
Use Analog Clocks
Go pre-digital with time. Reading time on a digital clock is vastly different than on a clock with a face. First grade standards focus on telling time to the hour and half hour, so have some old-fashioned analog clocks around your house as your child is learning to tell time. Consider giving her a wristwatch with a face, rather than a digital display.
Keep a Calendar at Home
Keep a calendar displayed in your home. Review the days of the week with your child and encourage her to count down the number of days until an event she is anticipating.
Play Games with Simple Math
Play a game in the car using simple addition or subtraction. For example: I'm thinking of a number that equals 7 when it is added to 3. What number is that? Look for opportunities to play simple addition and subtraction games, for example, while she is eating, with the number of items on her plate.
Play Games with Math Vocabulary
Play a mind-reader game. Think of a number for your child to guess. After each guess respond with the words "higher" or "lower." At different times use the words "more" or "less" so she learns different arithmetic vocabulary. This game helps her correlate the number words and counting sequence with actual amounts or sizes.
Play Family Math Games
Plenty of family games incorporate math. Tic tac toe, Connect Four, and dominoes are just some of the many games that help build math skills.