Whether you use metric or imperial measurements, familiarizing your child
with measuring tools and the process can give her a boost in understanding the
meaning of numbers.

         You probably have extra sets of measuring cups, spoons, and jars around
the house. All you need are the opportunities to put them to good use.

         Starting with pre-schoolers, use the assortment of cups and spoons that
you have on hand. It’s a way to familiarize children with these objects. The most
common items to be measured will probably  be sand and water. By all means,
use the terminology of measurement as a way to familiarize the children with it:
cup, pint, liter, quart, teaspoon, tablespoon, gallon. This will begin the
understanding of these concepts for the children.

         Once the children are school-aged, they can be helpful to you in the
kitchen. Helping the parent who does the cooking is a great way to get involved
in an activity that benefits the whole family. Asking for two cups of flour or three
tablespoons of oil will involve the child in preparing food for the family, giving a
sense of contribution in addition to concrete knowledge about measuring.
Another possible by-product of doing this work together can be the
understanding of the concept that the role of the cook is not sex-specific: boys
can do it as well as girls.

         Linear measurement can also be a useful skill. Measuring boards or other
items that have to be cut during home projects can lead to a greater
understanding of this process. It gives children a better grasp of terms that are
used in everyday speech: ten inches, one hundred feet, fifty yards, half a mile,
ten miles, etc.

         In the process, you will also help your child to understand concepts of
comparisons. Children can begin to comprehend, with your help, the meaning
of more, less, and equal when they compare two items or quantities.

         You also have an opportunity to use basic addition and subtraction skills
by asking such questions as, “We have four cups of flour in the bowl. When we
add two more, how many will we have all together?”

         This column has been incorporated into Teach Your Children Well: A Teacher’s Advice for Parents.

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