Math is one of the most exciting concepts to teach young children. It’s literally around us at all times in everything we do, and is super useful for the future. Regardless of your child’s age, if they haven’t started to learn about numbers and counting yet they soon will.
Toddler age is a great time to begin introducing simple math concepts to your children.
- Counting — From the time they begin to speak they can learn to count and before that hearing you count is a great beginning step for them. I can remember counting everything in our path when my children were young. We counted the stairs we walked up and down, the leaves we picked up outside, the birds in the field and we counted the clothes as they went in the wash, literally everything we did had a number. As children start to grasp the concept of rote counting (repeating the numbers one after the other) you can begin to introduce them to actual one to one correspondence (counting objects with meaning.)
- One to one correspondence — This concept is when children are able to count objects and say their number as they count. For instance, they are counting a group of cars and naming a number as they touch each car. If your child is rote counting (counting without identifying the number of objects) you can take this time to model touching objects and counting to reinforce this concept. There are so many ways to work on this with your little ones. When starting to teach them this concept, give them small groups of objects to count. Start with parts of their snack (five grapes, three goldfish, etc.) This concept can take months and months to learn and excel at, children will develop this skill at their own rate, as long as you allow opportunities for them to practice the skills it’ll come.
- Patterns — Patterning is all around us. The stripes on their shirt, the fruit on their fruit kabobs, the bathroom tiles and so many other places. When they’re little we start pointing them out around us and as they get older they can make their own patterns. They can paint patterns on paper, they can make colour patterns with bingo chips, or little animals, blocks, Legos, anything. With the objects you can do big and little patterns, you can make patterns with different stickers, the ideas are endless. The important thing to remind them of is that a pattern repeats itself. Before you know it, they’ll be pointing patterns out all around them.
- Measurement — Measurement is one of my favorite concepts to teach young children. Children love measuring things around them. Measuring can be done with rulers or measuring tapes etc, but it can also be done as a comparison activity. At a young age having children figure out which object is longer/shorter/lighter/heavier is a great beginning step. You can measure each other and things around you and classify it from longest to shortest. Heaviest to lightest is another easy one to do during play with your little ones. Another great way to reinforce measurement is through baking or cookies. Measuring out ingredients is a terrific way to start teaching these early math concepts. These basic activities can go a long way in helping your child be interested in math and become exposed to mathematical terms.
There are so many common games we play with our kids that are great for math concepts and most of the time we aren’t even thinking math when we play them, Card games, war, Skipbo, 7 up, Go fish, Dominoes, games with dice, games where you have to move your token (Trouble, Candy Land and countless more.). Keep playing these wonderful games with your children for more counting practice.
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