There’s nothing more important for your kids than learning, and their development and progression at school is a reflection both on the teachers, but also the parents. Today, it’s critical that kids begin to understand maths at a young age, and learn to master the subject. This is reinforced in schools, where teachers face a huge pressure to ensure no child is left behind. Even more critical, is that parents put their child on the path to success. There are many ways you can encourage learning for your child, and with a little effort your wonder child will be the star of the class. The first course you need to check out is designed specifically for busy parents, and gives you the building blocks to teach your kids effectively. The second is designed to teach you how to become the best parent ever, and raise both a happy and healthy child.
For preschoolers, you need to take an approach that builds the concepts of mathematics into their everyday life. At this stage they are just starting to grasp and experiment with math. Your approach should align with what is being taught at school, and you can easily work together with your child’s teachers to make math a fun part of their day. Even for young children, math isn’t just a numbers game.
Here’s the basic components that make up the math your preschooler will be learning:
- Sense and understanding of numbers: The number 3 is three objects, which is less than 4 and more than 2
- Simple geometry: The unique features of different patterns and shapes
- Measurements: What different sizes, distances and amounts look like, and how to measure them
- Math language: Specific phrases like add, subtract, more than, less than, etc.
- Spatial relations: When things are near or far, in front or behind
If you have the chance, stop by your child’s preschool and observe all the different ways that math is demonstrated in their classroom. You’ll be surprised at how often these simple dimensions are brought up throughout the day! This is critical in their learning because preschoolers learn best by exploring and experimentation. Young children by nature are curious about math, and as they start understanding the concepts they’ll start talking, playing, and reasoning with the concepts.
What’s interesting about a child’s learning process, is that preschoolers learn and gain an understanding of math concepts in a much less predictable fashion than how they learn to read. For parents that have gone through this already, you’ll remember the linear fashion that they learned the alphabet, and progressed on to short words and sentences. Learning math is more like the assembly of a jigsaw puzzle, there’s not a set sequence to master each concept, and over time with proper guidance they’ll master the concepts. If your child is struggling, check out this blog post on different teaching styles and take a new approach, just in case your little one learns best in another style.
The obstacles to learning math are many, and it is unfortunately this subject is too often seen as a one-dimensional subject that is separate to all the others which are taught in school. Many parents may not have fond memories of their own math classes, and this, even as an unconscious perspective can impact the way a child looks at their own math classes. If you hated numbers as a kid, you can bet your child knows this, and will be feeling some of the same emotions. Sometimes the lack of confidence a parent has in a subject is also a limiting factor, and children are very adept at picking up the things a parent has comfort with, or an aversion to. Luckily, you don’t need to be an expert to teach your kids math, especially when they are in preschool. All you need to do is communicate how important it is, and help your child grasp the concepts and ideas.
Remember that every child learns in their own way, and the best way you can help your children develop and refine their skills is to make maths fun, interesting and engaging. This is how preschool teachers keep kids interested in a subject, so use the same techniques when you’re at home. Here’s how to get started teaching math for a preschooler:
- Get an understanding of the categories that are being taught at the school. These are the basic dimensions covered earlier.
- Spend the time on each subject that needs to be developed. Often a teacher will only focus on a single area at a time so a child learns the different tactics that are used to solve problems.
- Remember to tailor your lesson length to the attention span of the child! Incorporate learning into play whenever possible.
As an example of teaching geometry, teach your child the names of each of the different shapes, and ask them to repeat them back to you. You can also have your child create new shapes with building blocks, and ask them the names of the shapes they have made. Building on this you can ask your child to draw the shapes on blank paper, so you improve their accuracy in recognizing each shape.
As you talk to them, try to include math terms like “add” and “subtract” when you’re interacting with your children, reading them a story, or working on a project. Show them videos that demonstrate basic math techniques, or read books to them that follow similar concepts of how to add and subtract inside the actual story, and give them tasks like dividing a pile of blocks so that they’re in two equal piles. Ask your child to count how many blocks of each color there are, or think of a number, and ask your child to guess what it is by giving clues, like guessing a number between 4 and 9. Finally, get them counting by asking them to count the days until the next school vacation on a calendar.
During your teaching time you should be in constant communication with your child’s teacher, so that you can learn more about their interests, progress and developments on the subject. What’s great about math is that simple concepts like geometry carry over into other subjects, like colouing and painting. Learning maths doesn’t have to be boring, make it fun and your kids will thank you for it. You have a huge range of learning opportunities for your child available, all you need to do is support and encourage them along the way.
If you’re stuck for ideas on how to teach math to your kids, here are some fantastic ways you can encourage them to learn, or you can check out lots more activities in this fantastic course.
There are a huge range of chances to promote mathematical thinking with your children in the kitchen. Getting them to help measure, weight, count and estimate the ingredients can be a fun way to boost their learning, as well as giving you the chance to drop many mathematical terms in the conversation. They won’t even realise they’re learning math! Ask them to get two eggs, or measure a full cup of milk will fast get them understanding the terminology. It’s also a great way to spend time with your kids, and help develop their fine motor skills as they help with the stages of preparation.
- Finding shapes
Playing with your kids using lego, or building blocks is a great way to get them understanding different shapes and objects. In the real world there are shapes everywhere, and you’ll easily be able to get them guessing at what shape is that sign, building or window as you’re driving them to school. Making math part of everyday life is what will get them learning even faster.
- Playing games
Bring math concepts into games. Use the roll of the dice to see how many steps you can go, play simple board games or learning the shape and feel of different geometric shapes is a great way to keep them entertained, but also developing at the same time.
This is not something that immediately comes to mind, but having your children sort different objects with games is a great way to reinforce a mathematical understanding. It could be as easy as asking them to select blocks of different colours or sizes, which helps to reinforce a child’s ability to organize and make sense of the items in the world. If you don’t mind them sneaking a couple, you could also play this game with M&M’s!
By the time your child is 3 or 4 years old, they should already have a good grasp of mathematical concepts. On top of this, they should also be able to do basic mathematical tasks, like adding and subtracting. Always remember that some children may excel in particular aspects of math, but can face difficulty grasping the concepts of others. This is because some math skills rely on “non-math” techniques, like reading a sentence, memory, or fine motor skills. If your child is struggling with math, be sure to consider each and every one of their academic strengths and weaknesses as you look for the root cause of the problem.
Look at their results from the tests they do in class, and see if you can spot a trend as to why they are struggling. First you need baseline information, so you know what they’ve been taught already. If they are having major problems in learning, perhaps you need to consider getting additional support, like a tutor or a specialist program to help their mathematical skills. Often, it’s just because some children need a different kind of instruction to grasp the concepts. The best way that you as a parent can support them is to make learning, practicing, and reinforcing math a major part of their day, regardless if they are at school, at home, or out in the community.
Your children learn best by getting involved in hands on activities, the passive learning approach where they listen to you talk is not as effective. To learn more about how to be a great teacher, check out this course and discover all the tricks of the trade. What’s great is the techniques work for all subjects, not just math, so you’ll have your little ones mastering their schoolwork in no time!