Math and reading are by far the subject areas that get the most emphasis and attention in school. Give your child a leg up by helping them build a strong math foundation before they even see a classroom!
The truth is, math is at the very heart of nature and the world all around us. It also pops up quite naturally (and frequently) in the play of young children. If we as adults can come to see the math in the play, we can encourage and nurture mathematical play, and lead our children to be eager problem solvers!
But what if math terrifies you?? What if you have no idea where to begin, or have never enjoyed the subject? Well start small, and check these out!
Math kids need to know, and where to find it...
- Counting- Saying the numbers out loud. Songs and books are great for this, or you can just randomly count as you go through the day.
- Recognizing Numerals- See a 3, say 'three'. Numbers are everywhere you go. Point at them and say their names. Easy Peasy. The more you point, the faster they learn.
- One-to-one correspondence: Actually counting objects. This is different than just counting out loud, as you actually assign a number to each object. Fortunately, you will find boundless opportunities to practice this. Count carrots as they go in a bowl, Cheerios as you eat them, jumps as you hop. You don't even have to count to practice this, assigning 1 thing to 1 thing also builds the skill. One fork for every plate, one hat for every doll, one spoon for every cup.
- Shapes- Naming and recognizing basic geometric shapes such as circle, square, triangle, rectangle, square. Children's books and games are full of shapes, but I prefer real life practice. Check out #ShapeHunt and join the fun!
- Sorting- This is a math skill that is often overlooked, but has huge implications later on. It is also one of the skills you most often find children playing at naturally, and it should be encouraged! Sort by color, shape, size, or any other attributes you can come up with!
- Patterning-Green, Blue, Green, Blue, Green, Blue. And that's just the beginning! Children should be able to recognize, create, and extend patterns. They will need a good foundation of sorting to be able to recognize attributes and create patterns. Clothing is a great place to find and talk about patterns, so the next time you're wearing a striped shirt, point it out!!
- Measuring- Comparing sizes is a great place to start, then putting objects in order by size. Look around your house for anything that comes in multiple sizes. Try shoes, cups, spoons, or pencils. Help your child sort or order them by size. Once your child has a good grasp on those skills, you can try actually measuring objects with a variety of other objects. (The table is 15 blocks high, My shoe is 6 dominoes long). These fun activities will prepare your child for standard units of measure later on.
- Data Analysis- Ok, you might be thinking that this one sounds pretty out there for preschoolers, but it can be as simple as more or less! In Kindergarten, children will begin creating and reading simple graphs. Next time your child is sorting things , ask, "Which has more, the green or blue?", "Which has the least, the pretzels or the goldfish?" You can also encourage your child to place objects in lines or rows instead of piles when they sort. This way, the objects are easier to compare, and practically make their own graph!
The most important thing is have fun! Keep these things in mind, and when you stumble across them during your day, try to enjoy them with your kids. Count as you push a swing, sort out your fruit loops, and sing a song about those striped pants. You will be amazed at how fun math can be, and how much your little one is learning!