Early Math Skills
With the exception of addition and subtraction, many adults try to avoid activities involving math or have a negative emotional response connected to it. By introducing math skills to your child at a young age, and through natural and fun activities, you create a child who is more comfortable and confident in math. So the next question is, “What skills should I be teaching and how?” There’s good news, by now you have most likely already started teaching your child number, space, time and size concepts. By teaching your child the natural and/or logical arrangement of a sequence, you are teaching them skills in numerical order. This skill is usually the focus around birthdays, discussions of who’s the oldest and who’s the youngest, and when talking about the days of the week. When you practice reciting numbers in order, you are working on their counting skills. When asking your child to put something in front of, in back of, beside, over or under another object, you have been working on their spatial relationships. If you’ve ever told your child it will be time for bed in 5 more minutes or that you need to leave in 10 more minutes, you’ve been working on time concepts. This will be an especially important concept for them to learn when they get their own cell phone. When asking your child what size piece of cake they want, you have been working on size and measurement concepts. So let’s build off those skills and add some more.
I’ve listed some websites below that you can use as resources. They have some great activities or games you can do with your child. Other skills that we focus on at school include: patterning, sorting by attributes, 1-to-1 correspondence, numeral recognition, simple addition and subtraction, naming and recognizing two- and three-dimensional shapes and providing opportunities and materials that build a foundation for understanding economic concepts (e.g., playing restaurant, running a toy store, identifying and exchanging money, etc.). We strongly encourage teaching children new skills through hands on activities and manipulatives (small objects such as counting bears, buttons, cubes, beans, etc.). Once they understand the concept and are consistently able to demonstrate the skill at a concrete level, we introduce activities which encourage the use of mental images or pictures of real objects. The highest level for our preschoolers would be functioning at an abstract level. This would involve very basic and simple skills such as 1+1=2 (without using fingers or thinking of objects).
Please take some time and check out a few of the websites listed below and let me know what you think. If you have some suggestions for math activities or websites that you would like to share with other families, please let me know. Remember to make working with math fun and interesting. Unless you have a learner who loves worksheet, provide hands on materials that your child can feel and touch. By doing so, you’re utilizing different parts of the brain and building a stronger experience to store in memory. So, remember what Mickey Mouse said, "Arithmetic is being able to count up to twenty without taking off your shoes."
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