Why should we start teaching math in preschool? Good question! Starting math early is just as important as teaching your child their alphabet. And it’s not just simply teaching them to count to 10 but teaching them math. I was amazed when my daughter was able to count to 10 when she was three. But when I asked her for two snack crackers, she offered me more than a handful. There was no connection between knowing how to count to 10 and how to put those numbers to use.
In a 2007 study*, University of California, Irvine, education professor Greg Duncan and his colleagues found that in a comparison of math, literacy, and social-emotional skills at kindergarten entry, “early math concepts, such as knowledge of numbers and how they work, were the most powerful predictors of later learning”.
The goal of teaching math early is to help children develop, discuss, and use those methods to solve math problems. Young kids need problems to solve and room to solve them. Teaching can take place using puzzles, learning carpets and games. Children struggle to grasp even the simplest mathematical activity if they cannot use the sense of touch. Remember those shape sorters that we had as kids? Yes, they were fun, but they were also teaching us what a circle looked and felt like, along with the name. Little did we know, we were learning math!
Starting to teach your preschooler math may seem like a daunting task, but it really can be as easy as 1, 2, 3. How? By having fun of course!
1. The card game – A simple way of practicing math. Use the number cards only, divide them between the kids. Have the kids take turns flipping the top card of their set. The higher card wins, but the players must claim their point by announcing that their card number was higher.
2. Count food items at snack time (e.g., 5 crackers, 20 raisins, 10 baby carrots).
3. Help them understand comparisons like more than/less than, bigger/smaller, and near/far by using their surroundings. That tree is farther away than the cow. My favorite for more than/less than comparison is using food color, water and clear cups. Put the cups side by side. Write your name on one and your preschoolers name on the
other. Using the colored water to fill the cups, have your little one tell you who has more or less liquid.
4. The turtle counting carpet – For this fun learning experience we used a 1-10 Learning Carpet and a fun printable. Simply write the addition or subtraction equations on the Turtle Counting Carpet Cutout and have fun finding the answers by counting the circles on the carpet. As your preschooler gets older, you can use the carpet for simple multiplication and division problems too! Do you have the CPR3023 carpet? We would love to hear how you use it to help with early math skills.