Tips For Learning the Metric System

The Metric System is much simpler than our current Imperial System, but the hard part is figuring out a way to start transitioning from one system to the other. Here are a few tips for getting started with the Metric System.

Foreign language

Look at the Metric System as a foreign language. When you learn a foreign language, you don't start by trying to translate James Joyce's "Ulysses". You'd start by learning small words and phrases such as Please, Thank you, Where is . . . , and so on.

It's the same with the Metric System - learn the small everyday measurements like meters, grams, liters, and Celsius first. Most of us aren't dealing with Giga, Mega, septillions, kilopascals, or newtons in our everyday lives, so that part of the Metric System can be learned later.

Metric kitchen

Your kitchen is a really good place to learn the basics of the Metric System because it incorporates most of the everyday Metric measurements in a familiar environment. You'll use grams, kilograms, milligrams, liters, milliliters and millimeters. Food labels are another reason the kitchen is a good place to learn and practice the Metric System. Start reading the Metric size on the food labels instead of the familiar Imperial size when putting away the groceries.

Create reference points

Establish a few Metric System reference points by measuring small items you use most often such as your phone, debit cards, and laptop. Every time you use the item, get into the habit of remembering the Metric measurement so you have a familiar reference point for size or weight. If you're on a diet, chart your weight loss in kilograms, not pounds. When recording your kids' growth, do it in centimeters instead of feet and inches.

Set small goals

Don't try to learn the Metric System all at once. If you're starting in the kitchen, learn the milliliter measurements for teaspoons and tablespoons, or make a list of the Celsius oven temps and when turning on the oven, try to guess the °F to °C conversion without first looking at the list.

Designate one day a week as Metric Only. It could be Metric Monday, Topsy Tuesday, Wacky Wednesday, and so on. A 16" pizza is now a 406 mm (millimeter) pizza. A one-pound box of spaghetti is now a 454 gram box of spaghetti, and one tablespoon of oregano is now 15 ml (milliliters) of oregano.

Don't get overwhelmed

Learning the Metric System isn't going to happen overnight, but it's important to start somewhere. Once you have a few reference points memorized and use them on a regular basis, it will be much easier to learn the rest of the Metric System. Trust me, the Metric System is way(!) easier than the Imperial System.