Teeth-brushing time can be math time.
Math is a skill that is important for every child to learn, and the more practice a child can get with numbers, the better. But did you know that you can incorporate math lessons into their daily teeth brushing routine? Whether it’s singing a song or watching a video, engaging your child with math lessons often can help strengthen their love of numbers for the rest of their life.
1. Be consistent and use repetition.
One of the best ways children learn is through repetition and consistency. Studies show that it only takes children a few repetitions to memorize key facts and familiarize themselves with a concept that they are trying to learn.
Since everyone should brush their teeth at least twice a day for two minutes apiece, you can enrich those few minutes a day with a little math time too. Since many school-age children should still be supervised while brushing their teeth, why not try to reinforce recently introduced math facts at the same time? You can make it a fun part of their daily routine.
2. Use flash cards.
One way you can emphasize math facts is by using flash cards. While your child is brushing their teeth, show them simple equations on flash cards. Your child will see the numbers and recognize the patterns in the equations. Take two to three minutes each morning while your child is brushing their teeth to work on addition equations. During nighttime brushing, look at subtraction equations. Once your child finishes brushing, you can then quiz them on the flash cards they were just studying. For older children, use multiplication and division equations on flash cards. You can even incorporate fractions and geometry into this routine for older children.
3. Listen to songs.
Many children love songs they can sing along to. Music can be an effective way for children to learn because its repetition helps reinforce facts. Why not have your children listen to some math-related songs while brushing their teeth?
The Good and the Beautiful offers a musical set all about multiplication. The set focuses on repetition through songs with lyrics that will help your child memorize basic multiplication tables, which will make learning math concepts easier as they get older.
If your child isn’t quite ready for multiplication tables, why not invent your own rhymes based on math facts and equations? You can repeat the rhymes while your child is brushing their teeth. To make sure your children are brushing their teeth for as long as dentists recommend, which is at least two minutes, try using different rhymes for different parts of the mouth. Maybe you sing about subtraction while your child brushes their molars and then focus on addition while flossing.
4. Learn about teeth.
Did you know that children have 20 baby teeth in their mouth? That means there are five teeth per quadrant! Using a chart that shows the names of each tooth, you can become familiar with when they should be erupting in your child’s mouth.
If you’re a parent who is still brushing your child’s teeth, take the brushing time to count each tooth. Emphasize addition as you add one each time you finish brushing a tooth. After your child masters addition, try the reverse and use subtraction to count down until you’ve brushed all of their teeth.
As your child gets older, you can start incorporating equations into the mix. For example, ask your child to brush just their top teeth, and have them count the teeth along the way, then have them subtract that number from the total number of teeth in their mouth.
Another way you can incorporate math into oral hygiene habits is by having your child keep track of how many teeth they have left after they lose a tooth.
5. Consider a sticker chart.
If your child is having a hard time remembering to brush their teeth, consider using a chart where they can track their brushing. Using a chart like this one, have your child place a sticker on the chart every time they brush their teeth. After that, you can ask them how many times they have brushed their teeth this week, which they can do by counting the spaces with stickers. You can also write equations down for them based on how many spaces are on the chart and then have them do those math problems on another sheet of paper. The idea is to get them to recognize numbers and patterns and get them excited about brushing their teeth!
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