Preschoolers + Math = Future Academic Success
Numerous studies have found that giving preschoolers a solid foundation in early math literacy is not only critical to their future academic success, but also their day-to-day functioning and development.
According to research, preschoolers are naturally curious about math and want to learn through dynamic, hands-on games and projects. Parents can help fuel this interest by exposing young children to early math concepts through the following activities:
- Counting/numbers: Use items around the house to help children experiment with addition, subtraction and “more” and “less” activities. Have them count food items at snack time, such as 5 crackers and 10 raisins. Look at a calendar and count down the days to a special event.
- Measurement: Help children measure ingredients for a recipe using measuring cups and spoons. Play games with food, toys, etc., and ask questions like, “Are there more red jelly beans or blue ones?”
- Geometry: Go over the names of different shapes and play games with blocks and other objects. Encourage children to cut out shapes and arrange them into different patterns.
- Spatial relationships: Play games to reinforce concepts like in and out, up and down, before and after, forward and back, near and far, etc.
- Math language: Ask questions and encourage preschoolers to learn to use terms like more than/fewer, bigger/smaller, etc. Have them place numbers in the correct order, such as smallest to largest.
Child development experts say that by age 3 or 4, a child should have a good understanding of certain math concepts and be able to perform some basic math. While not all preschoolers will pick up math skills at the same rate, parents may want to seek help for children who struggle with simple counting, one-to-one correspondence between number symbols and items/objects, and seeing variations in size, patterns, or shapes. Parents should also look for signs that their children dislike and avoid activities and games that involve numbers and counting.
The key to developing early math skills, experts say, is reinforcing math games and activities at both home and preschool.