Math Checkups


“Start counting at 6!”

Ask your child to start counting at a number other than 1, like at 6 or 8. See if they can do it without whispering all the other numbers first!

What's the skill?

When kids can say the next number as quickly as their name, they have “automaticity.”

Why is it urgent?

When kids don’t know the next number, they aren’t yet ready to add 1 – which is the basis for all math.

“Quick, without counting: How many cookies?”

Place 3 to 5 objects on the table, and ask your child to eyeball the pile and say how many there are. See if they can do it without pointing and counting individually.

What's the skill?

Spotting a group of items and having a gut feel for the total is called “subitizing.”

Why is it urgent?

Kindergartners’ ability to subitize predicts success or struggle in first-grade math. It’s also a skill we all use as adults all the time!

“Take me to 10!”

Count out anywhere from 2 to 8 snacks or treats on the table. Tell your child you want 10, and ask how many more you need to get there.

What's the skill?

This helps kids learn their “10-pairs”:  Digits that together add up to 10.

Why is it urgent?

Knowing what digit completes the 10 is critical to both addition and subtraction. It speeds mental math and eases the process.

“Let’s count down to blast-off!”

When you’re about to do any simple task – flip a pancake, pop the lid off a jar, crack an egg – ask your child to count down from 5 with you for the big ta-da. Then try counting down from 10 – or other numbers!

What's the skill?

Counting down shows you whether your child has automaticity with the number before each number, not just the one after.

Why is it urgent?

When kids can’t find 1 less than a number is, they aren’t yet able to subtract 1 – which is necessary for all future math.

Wondering what to do next? Talk to your kid’s teacher