Math and Your Preschool Child
by Linda Espinosa
Imagine my surprise when my three-year-old daughter looked up one night as I was tucking her into bed, and earnestly inquired, "What's more than infinity?" Her question was a logical extension of a game we had been playing; she was repeatedly trying to quantify how much she loved me, and since infinity was the largest number, how could she tell me that she loved me more than infinity?
This example illustrates what the experts have been telling us: young children are actively making meaning out of their world and that by the preschool years they already possess substantial informal knowledge about mathematics. Long before they get to kindergarten, children have developed a basic understanding of numbers, counting, classification, measuring, comparing, and even early geometric concepts. Their intense curiosity about the nature of the world combined with an opportunity to explore and manipulate their environments, make preschool children natural mathematicians. They also have not learned to fear the dreaded math class!
Here are some simple activities that you can enjoy with your child to nurture her math knowledge:
- let your child help you set the table, making sure she sets the same number of plates, napkins, forks, etc. Just figuring out how many people will need to be served and how much of everything you will need is a great activity.
- do simple cooking projects together, letting her measure, pour, and mix ingredients. Be sure to talk about quantity as you measure.
- clap and sing rhythms together; this will help her develop a sense of patterns which is essential to future mathematics.
- sort the laundry together
- purchase lots of different sizes of blocks to build with
- play simple card games
- have fun using math together!
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