Math is not everyone’s favorite subject. In fact many people have been “taught” to hate math or think of it as boring. Starting at a young age, we can reframe children’s thinking and make math seem less scary and more a part of everyday life. We want children to be exposed to math concepts in fun, hands on ways, so that it is not threatening or intimidating. The Creative Curriculum® has four objectives that focus on emerging math skills in children.
At Rainbow Child Care Center, teachers work to include all domains of learning into all of the centers in the classroom. Your child is dead set on playing in the Home Living area all day? No problem! Our teachers can make it into a Farmer’s Market and encourage your child to buy and sell fruits and vegetables using play money. They can even talk about why fruits and vegetables are important to eat and sort them into various categories so your child is exploring math and science concepts as well. Your child loves to play blocks all day? Great! Their teacher can encourage them to build ramps and see how far their cars or trucks can go down them. They can also add letters to the blocks so your child can build words or talk to them and hear their vocabulary as they describe what they are building and how they keep it from falling over.
These are all things that teachers can do at school, but what can you do at home? Here are some ideas for how to incorporate each of the four math objectives into your child’s play at home.
Number Concepts and Operations
By having a tea party or setting the table for an actual meal time you can help your child count how many people the table will need to be set for. After talking about all of the things that will need to be brought to the table to set it, demonstrate how to set the table, using positional words, such as beside, above, and on top of. Have your child count the items set on the table and compare them to how many people will be attending. Is it the same number? Do you need to add or subtract any?
Spatial Relationships and Shapes
Go on a shape hunt with your child! You can start with a specific shape and talk about what traits it has, then go around your house and see how many other items you can find that are the same shapes. You could also explore your house and discover all the different shapes you can find in your house. The window and the door are both rectangles, which one is bigger?
Comparing and Measuring
Use standard and nonstandard units of measurement to see how big things are. How many Olaf stuffed animals tall is the kitchen table? How many gummy worms long is a ruler? Use words like bigger, smaller, shorter, the same as, etc. to describe the things around you to expose your child to that language.
Talk about patterns around the house with your child. Have your child help you make a casserole or lasagna and talk about the patterns involved with layering ingredients. Encourage your child to create their own patterns by grouping different sets of objects, such as legos or crayons. You could even have your child extend audio patterns by adding to a stomping and clapping exercise, e.g., stomp, clap, stomp, clap, clap; stomp, clap, stomp, clap, clap; etc.
Children are naturally curious and love to explore, so setting up activities that interest your child is key to motivating them to learn on their own. Your child will build confidence as they learn through play and will not be scared to make mistakes when they are doing age appropriate learning. By asking inquiring questions about some of the activities your child is doing, you can see and hear their emerging math skills without having to use flashcards, worksheets or testing them!