Equipped for Math (and science, reading, writing, art, history)

There is something your child studies every day, their brain seeks it to understand in new learning, along with using it to decipher their world, and it is encountered in math, science, reading, writing and history.

What is it and would you like a few tips on incorporating this skill into your home life (so your kids can be more prepared and confident in their studies)?


In kindergarten, your child begins learning patterns in art and math as a repetition. ‘String the beads on the pipe cleaner using an AB pattern, red-green-red-green-red-green.’ As your child grows, patterns are connected with our base-10 number system in counting. Then it branches to understanding how the days of the week repeat, months of the year, etc. HOWEVER, our children often need a little nudge in finding these patterns in their world. Once your child flexes that muscle of how to identify and create patterns, the ability to make those connections to other scientific topics, writing processes, and trends in history, come more easily.

So how can a parent (who feels far from being a math teacher) help solidify these brain pathways with ideas at home?! (I thought you’d never ask!)

Here, try some of these:

  1. Have conversations about patterns. Say, “Tell me what you know about patterns.” Listen deeply for paths of aligned thinking and when things go on a little bird walk off the trail. Generally, their explanation should include words like ‘repeat’ or ‘the same, again and again.’

  2. Help your child describe patterns (from your everyday life) using the letters of the alphabet. For example, a traffic signal displaying green-yellow-red is an ABC pattern. Someone stepping left-right-left-right is an AB pattern. The four seasons are an ABCD pattern. Even older children should seek patterns in this way. Almost every pop song written has the pattern verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-verse-chorus. That means almost every pop song has an ABABCAB pattern. So ask your older kids if they’re seeing any patterns in TikTok these days?

  3. Help your child see patterns (from your everyday life) as they relate to family rituals, calendar events and behaviors. Every Friday night our family has pizza for dinner. We always go to Grandma’s for Thanksgiving. We pay the bills the first day of every month. Every time the cat eats her entire bowl of food too fast, she throws up. It’s great to simply announce, “Hey, I just noticed a pattern. In the morning, we always have the same ‘get-ready’ pattern. Get up, get dressed, have breakfast.” This ah-ha moment about patterning signifies to your child (1) it’s normal to talk about academic thinking as a common language in our home and (2) it’s wonderful to suddenly make a discovery and share it aloud (which also helps the brain remember). This ‘think-aloud’ talk models for your child how to make a discovery and connect one idea in the brain to another (building neural pathways). You’re literally modeling and supporting the thinking and learning process. (Good for you!)

  4. Discover and discuss growing patterns! Growing patterns are patterns that grow with every sequence. You could also say, growing patterns occur when something is added to the pattern. For example, AB, ABB, ABBB, ABBB. Or A, AB, ABC. But my FAVORITE growing pattern to introduce children to is that of Fibonacci. Fibonacci was an Italian mathematician who showed the western world nature’s sequence of numbers that creates a spiral. Fibonacci’s sequence of numbers starts with 0+1=1. Then you take the two ending numbers and add them together, 1+1=2. Then again, 1+2=3. Then again, 2+3=5. Then again, 3+5=8...again and again and again...so the sequence is 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, etc. This spiral sequence of numbers is what you see in pine cones and a nautilus shell. This growing pattern is all around, you simply need to go out and find it.

  5. Take math outside with Fibonacci’s connection of numbers and nature! Go for a family walk and begin by collecting pieces of nature and placing them in the correct order. Can you find a flower with one petal, then two, three, five? Turn a pine cone up-side down and follow the spiral with your finger.

If you'd like a quick-paced video for inspiration, watch this.

If you want to read more about Fibonacci, here are two books used to introduce him to my class: Growing Patterns and Fionacci.

Start small with patterns in your family. Keep talking about them and finding them outside. I promise, this will be a pattern you will love watching grow!

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