Math gives children a way to talk about objects and ideas, which develops vocabulary and general knowledge about the world. This is important as children learn to read. The more words and ideas they understand, the better children can comprehend what they read.
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You can find opportunities every day to involve children in math activities. You do not have to be an expert to do this. Just give your children the chance to ask questions, look for answers, and talk about the experience.
The Erikson Institute’s Early Math Collaborative defines 9 foundational math concepts for young children. See http://earlymath.erikson.edu for more.
Data Analysis is gathering and organizing information to allow comparison and generalization.
Understanding that words can be broken into smaller pieces and then put back together helps children sound out words when they are ready to learn to read.
Listening to the patterns found in music can also help children identify other types of patterns, which may explain the “Mozart effect” – listening to music improves performance on certain math tasks requiring spatial-temporal reasoning.
Measurement & Patterns
Measurement is using numbers to describe an attribute.
Patterns refers to recognizing like items which repeat in sequence.
We often think of reading and math skills as being separate, but there is actually a lot of overlap. For example, recognizing patterns, classifying, sequencing, and solving problems are important skills for early math, but they’re also important early literacy skills.
Counting & Sets
Counting is reciting the names of numbers in order and applying them to objects.
Sets refers to defining which things go together.
Learning about shapes and spatial relationships is an important precursor to both geometry and letter recognition. After all, letters are just combinations of shapes! Provide your child with lots of opportunities to identify, talk about, trace, draw, and manipulate shapes.
Shapes & Spatial Relationships
Shapes refers to recognizing and naming 2- and 3-dimensional shapes.
Spatial Relationships refers to understanding direction, orientation, and relative position of objects.
Opportunities for talking about numbers and number operations occur all the time. If everyone gets two crackers for snack, how many crackers do we need to put out? If bedtime starts in 30 minutes and it takes 10 minutes to get ready, how long do we have to play? The next time your child asks a question that requires math, you might say, “I’m not sure—let’s figure it out.” In this way, you are helping your child problem solve and discover something for him or herself.
Number Sense & Operations
Number Sense is associating the names of numbers with the quantities they represent.
Number Operations is seeing what happens when we join or separate sets.