Have you ever wondered when children should begin learning math? You may be surprised to learn that math concepts and skills are developed very early in life. Babies begin to form ideas about math from the time they are born and learn through everyday experiences. Try these ideas using objects found in most homes.
Muffin Tin Math
Provide your child with a muffin tin and a variety of small items found around the house i.e. cotton balls, rocks, beads, colored chips, pom-poms, small toys, etc. Encourage your older child to sort the items into the muffin tin by size, color, weight, etc. She may also enjoy comparing how many are in each cup, counting a specific number of items into each cup, or making patterns using the items. Infants and toddlers are learning as they put things into and out of the muffin tin. Encourage the math connection by using the words “in”, “out”, “under”, etc. as they move the objects around.
Gift Box Math
Save small gift boxes like the ones that jewelry comes in. Toddlers will love putting things in and taking them out of the box as well as putting the lids on and taking them off. They are also learning measurement concepts when they put smaller boxes inside of larger ones. Encourage preschoolers estimating and measurement skills by finding boxes of the same and different sizes, determining which is small, medium, and large, and by matching the correct lids to each box.
Make mealtime “math time” by talking about the colors and shapes of the food you or your child are eating. Ask your child if he wants “more” of a certain food or identify if he has more macaroni or more carrots. Comment when you divide a whole into parts, i.e. when you cut the pancake in half, quarters and eventually into bites. Ask him to match or sort utensils, cups, plates, etc. by size, shape or color.
There is no need to drill children with flashcards or do worksheets to help them learn math! When you integrate math concepts into everyday life, math becomes something that children understand as a normal part of life.