Count On: Early Arithmetic Skills are Important in the Classroom and at Home

Count On: Early Arithmetic Skills are Important in the Classroom and at Home

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Preschool establishes the first building blocks for your child’s educational path. There are many important concepts and subjects that are taught in the early years, including math. While your little one is still many years away from trigonometry and calculus, they are learning basic math skills through games, toys and everyday activities in the preschool classroom. 

Carla Kelly, kindergarten teacher, Marcia Seketa, preschool teacher and Paula Weizer, preschool teacher at The Music Settlement share some of the ways children are learning early fundamentals of math. 

“Math concepts are mixed into everything we do from counting children standing in line, counting how many crackers we’re eating for a snack, or counting for 20 seconds while washing our hands,” according to the teachers. 

During circle time students might sing songs or read books about numbers, and in science they’ll count, measure and chart objects. During play time children might stack blocks, play with 2D and 3D shapes or string beads together in a pattern. 

One of the earliest math skills children learn is counting and recognizing numbers through 10. 

Once kids learn to count and identify 1 to 10 numbers, they can begin to learn addition and double-digit numbers. Counting past 10 and identifying teen numbers can be more challenging for preschoolers. 

Other early concepts include learning shapes, sorting objects and recognizing quantities (more/less). 

 Math at Home

If you’re looking to build your preschooler’s math skills at home, there are some quick and easy activities and games you can try. 

Kids love to help, especially in the kitchen. The next time you’re putting a recipe together, find a few ingredients that your child can help with.

“Cooking is another way to include math into each day,” according to Kelly, Seketa and Weizer. “Reading a recipe together and learning about measurement and sequence are math concepts. Even setting the table for a meal: how many forks will we need? All math.” 

Encouraging counting at home and asking questions about numbers (how many cars, dinosaurs, etc. do you have, how many plates do we need for the table) are also good ways to build your little one’s number confidence.

It’s important to establish a positive relationship with math early on so children feel confident as they start to learn more advanced math problems. Many people struggle with math or feel intimidated by hard math problems.  

“Parents’ attitude and comfort with math or “math -phobia” can impact children,” according to Kelly, Seketa and Weizer. “While we all use math each day, many adults are “fearful” or intimidated by math and consider this an area they are less confident in. In truth, we are all using math, geometry, and number sense all day- whether cooking, driving, shopping or organizing our homes.” 

Easy Preschool Math Games

Fill Up:

The child rolls the dice, and counts the dots. Then they fill up the cup with that number of items that matches the number of dots. You can use M&M’s or small erasers or checkers- whatever you have plenty of around the house. You play until your cup is full.

Sensory Bin Number Hunt: 

You’ll need a small storage container, about 2 pounds of uncooked rice, construction paper and playing cards. 

Go through the deck of cards and take out numbers 2-10. Pour the rice into the storage container and bury the cards. Write numbers 2-10 on the construction paper. As your child pulls out the numbers, have them match the cards to the construction paper.

 Number Hide & Seek:

Grab a few different colors of sticky notes. Write the numbers 1-10 on sticky notes and make a few sets. Place the sticky notes at the child’s eye level around your house. Ask your child to find a certain number. For example, “find all the 3’s,” and have your child grab all the sticky notes that have that number. Repeat until they’ve retrieved all of the sticky notes. 


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