“One, two, five, seven.” Sound familiar? Random sequences are common as young children learn to count. Because math is everywhere every day, young children develop ideas about mathematics throughout their daily routines.
Math is a very active process for young children because it is the child’s way of thinking about and organizing their experiences to make sense of their world. It’s a process that involves reasoning, problem-solving and communication. As you watch children at play, you will see them spontaneously explore such topics as patterns, shapes, addition and subtraction.
As caregivers, you can turn children’s early and natural mathematics play into an awareness of mathematical concepts and skills. Your task is to find out what young children already understand and help them begin to understand these things mathematically.
For example, children can learn shapes and color concepts through art activities or by playing with blocks. Cooking activities can teach how quantities are related and ordered. Classroom games can teach the concepts of first and last, as well as high and low numbers. Dramatic play can offer opportunities to learn about money, while songs, stories and finger plays can contain numbers and math words. The opportunities are endless.
And attitudes matter. Unfortunately, adults often say that they “hated math,” or that math just “never made sense.” Many adults, however, learned math through repetition and memorization, not really understanding the principles that form the foundation of mathematics. Without that foundation, young learners typically hit a brick wall around the third grade, and become frustrated with math.
When children hear adults say things like “math is too hard,” they begin to fear math. Your goal should be to build “mathematical power” in young children, and you can do this by modeling a positive view toward learning and using mathematics, understanding and appreciating the importance of mathematics, and engaging in mathematical thinking.
Have a Great Day!
*Article reprinted from past Enrich Community newsletter.