Preparing a child for school begins at a very young age. Children learn best when they learn through their everyday experiences with the people they love and trust. As well as helping a child learn how to read, parents should also spend time nurturing the development of a child’s math sense.
How does a parent do this?
1. Count your steps as you take a walk.
Count by 1’s, 2’s, 5’s and 10’s! Whether you’re walking on the sidewalk or up or down stairs, count them. Make it into a game! Count backwards the same ways you count forwards. Skip counting is a basic skill but the backbone of other skills such as adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing.
2. Give your child coins to practice counting money.
Start with a penny. Talk about money. How much is one penny? Count pennies. Do the same for the nickel, dime and quarter. Show how a nickel can be represented by 5 pennies. Show how a dime can be represented by 10 pennies , two nickels or 5 pennies and 1 nickel. Count money by 1’s, 5′ s and 10’s too!
3. Have children point out patterns they find in their environment.
Start pointing out patterns in your child’s environment. Make a game out of it. “I spy with my little eye, a pattern of red and green”. Encourage your child to seek out the pattern. The more you point out patterns, the more your child will find ones on their own. Make patterns with supplies you have at home such as cereal, buttons, playing cards, toothpicks, beads, etc.. Use clapping to demonstrate pattern and have your child mimic/copy your clapping patterns.
4. Let your child help you cook.
Cooking involves a lot of counting and measuring. Recipes involve a variety of different measurements such as a cup, a spoonful, a pinch, a teaspoonful. Cooking involves temperature, fractions and estimation.
5. Show your child that math is in our everyday lives.
We use math when we’re cooking, sewing, building, growing and learning. Point this out to your child with specific examples.
6. Help your child use math vocabulary.
Always use the correct terminology when teaching kids a concept. A penny, nickel, dime and quarter are also referred to as 1 cent, 5 cents, 10 cents and 25 cents. In addition, we “add” two numbers together to get the “sum” (answer). In subtraction, we “subtract” one number from another to find the “difference” between the numbers.
7. Give your child story problems to try and solve.
Have your child explain how to solve the problem using words, drawings, symbols or numbers or a combination of all four. Explain that there is more than one way to solve a problem. Try to use story problems that relate directly to their life. Learning is maximized when a new skill is taught using concepts/experiences in which we are already familiar.
** Activities above will vary on difficulty level depending the age of the child.
The best way children learn is by experiencing the world around them. In the words of Paulo Coelho, “People never learn anything by being told, they have to find out for themselves.”
So why not ensure your child’s first experiences with math begin at home, with you?