Greetings Oak Grove Family !
This is the February posting for my blog. This month I would like to talk about developing math skills for preschoolers. Math concepts begin at a very young age and enriching early experiences can be helpful in building the foundation for later school age math abilities.
Early math skills are learned through daily routines and everyday interactions. Some of the early building blocks include understanding size, shape, and patterns. These early skills are closely tied to language development. Concepts such as big/little, round/square, up/down, in/out, on/under and later skills such as more/less and same/different help to start the process. First use objects (big ball, little ball), or play with toys (put the car under the chair) Matching pictures, shapes, colors, is also a good early step. Very young children like to sort things by shape, size, or color, but not until later do they sort by two dimensions. (put the round red ones in this box)
Very young children often learn to rote count verbally forward and backward and enjoy the “game”. As they learn to rote count they begin to associate what is spoken with a numeral. Often matching comes at about the same time. After recognition of numerals children learn to count with one to one correspondence. Use just a few items at a time as children initially tend to skip items and lose track of their place and need to start over again.
As they become more skilled at counting things in a row children begin to be able to count groups of objects or pictures. (How many raisins are in this cup? In the other cup?) Use raisins, cheerios, blocks, pr any objects that your child seems to be interested in. As they get older have them “help” you. “Can you bring me four spoons?”
As your child gets older, cooking is a great activity for developing math skills. Weighing, measuring, concepts of time and temperature are all involved. Use a timer (an hourglass is a terrific tool) in short segments (one minute at first) to help develop the concept of measurement of time.
Later math skills are based on these early foundations of language, motor skills, and observation of everyday things and experiences. As your child gets older, concepts of addition and subtraction become interesting when combined with everyday materials and activities. A more formal math curriculum can be interesting for children once the prerequisite skills are in place.
Math fact memorization should occur only after the concepts have been introduced, so that the facts can be generalized to problem solving. Some preschool children are ready and eager for kindergarten, first grade or even higher level skills when the basic experiences and concepts have been mastered. Associating groups of objects with numbers and using addition and subtraction signs with them is the first step, then on to automatic fact memorization. Rote memory has gotten a bad rap at times, but for an elementary aged child, the ability to do mental calculations is an important step towards higher order math skills. Some children will need and benefit from the review/practice approach that the Saxon curriculum offers, and some will be able to learn quickly and well with other methods.
I hope that this has been helpful and interesting. The main idea I want communicate is that learning is a developmental process and should be play based and connected to the natural environment. This way learning is fun and makes use of a child’s intrinsic motivation to learn.
The above expressed expert opinions are those of the author and in no way constitute those of Oak Grove Academy, its faculty or staff.