Early math does not mean that the child will be taught to play with a calculator. Even before the child starts school, he or she will have developed an understanding of addition and subtraction through everyday interactions. Math skills should be introduced to a child through daily routines and activities. Counting steps as you walk, counting the toys are simple yet informal activities to help a child jump-start on formal math instructions that starts in a school.
Parents should encourage the child with counting skills at home. This will reinforce and help to build upon these skills. There are many ways you can play with your child. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Show your child how numbers and counting apply to everyday life. Talk about how things or amounts are more, less, bigger and smaller. Be sure to praise his efforts and his progress in math awareness.
- A variety of materials can be collected for hands-on counting. Old keys, plastic bottle caps work well. Collect them in a jar or bag and let the child count and recount them again and again.
- Use items from around the house to experiment with addition, subtraction, and more and less activities.
- Read, tell, sing songs and recite poems that include numbers and counting.
- Simple board games where players can count spaces on the board will encourage the child to count. Help the child recognizes printed numerals or their representation like dots on a dice.
- Counting food items at snack time like 5 cookies, 10 nuts etc.
- You can increase his sense of number using a calendar to count the days to a birthday or a special holiday. This will help your child see the connection between numerals and numbers.
- Geometrical patterns and shapes can be taught by arranging cookie cutters in patterns. A simple pattern might be: star-circle-star-circle.
- Try measuring your child’s height every month or so and showing him how to use the tape measure. Mark his height on a door frame. This can be used to compare his height to the previous months.
- Songs with corresponding movements can be used to teach concepts like in and out, up and down, and round and round.
Your child may grasp and enjoy certain math concepts more easily than others. Expect some variation in children’s math awareness and skills. Even so, by the age of 3 or 4 your child should understand certain math concepts and should be able to perform related math tasks.