It’s no secret that kids often learn better by playing games and having fun. This can be particularly true in the scary world of mathematics, where “fun” is not a word commonly heard.

And yet math games are a proven way to help children enjoy math – and learn the subject more effectively.

Play is a wonderful teacher in itself, allowing kids to relax and use their imagination. Plus any learning that takes place away from the pressure of math class and the exam hall is always beneficial.

The problem for parents, however, is how to choose the right math games. After all, you’re probably not a math teacher. You may not even be great at math yourself.

Fear not. Math games don’t have to be complicated. In fact the simpler, the better.

Here are three simple games to get you started:

#1 – “At The Double”

When you play this game, simply tell your child to double a number. The game is: you shout out a number, and your child replies with the answer.

You say “seven”. Your child should reply “fourteen”.

You say “twenty six” and your child replies “fifty two”.

Doubling is the same as multiplying by two. So if you’re asked what’s fifteen doubled, you would say thirty. (Because fifteen multiplied by two is thirty.)

Naturally you want to start at an easy level. So begin with single digits like “four” or “seven”.

Once your child consistently gets the correct answer, then move up to double digits, like “fourteen” or “twenty six”.

#2 “Half Time”

Similar to the doubling game, this one goes in the opposite direction by cutting a number in half.

Again, you select a number and your child gives the answer.

For example, suppose you choose “eighty six”.

Your child replies with “forty three”, which is exactly half of eighty six.

Halving is the same as dividing by two. So “fifty eight halved”means “fifty eight divided by two”. Either way, the answer comes to twenty nine.

Start the game with even single-digits like “four” or six”.

Once your child is comfortable and getting the correct answers, you can progress to double digit numbers.

With these, start with easier numbers like “forty six”. Here you’ll notice both digits are even numbers, which make halving easier.

Then move onto numbers where the first digit is an odd number, like in “thirty two” or “ninety six”.

#3 “Rapid Fire”

In this game, you shout out some single digits. Your child adds them up and gives you the final answer.

For example, you say “Three… Five… Four.”

Your child adds them up mentally and shouts out the answer “twelve”.

In this game, begin with two single digits which add up to less than ten. Examples are “four plus five” and “three plus two”.

Easy sums like these let your child warm up. You can then progress to sums like “eight plus seven” and “five plus nine” where the numbers add up to ten or more.

Once your child develops confidence at this level, move on to three digits, like “five… eight… nine”.

And then four digits.. five digits… six digits.. but don’t push your child too hard!

The great advantage of this game is that your kid develops confidence and improves mental math skills -the ability to solve math problems without a calculator or paper and pencil.

As always with math, keep the games short and simple. A few minutes at the dining table or while waiting in the car can help your child develop math skills the natural way, and even come to realize that math truly can be fun!