- The Early Math Curriculum
- 5 Top toys and activities for practicing math skills with young children:
- Prioritize fun
Soon your child will be embarking on an exciting journey through school life. Most parents consider how they can help their children prepare for their classroom years, and one of the most frequently asked questions is: “How can I help my child be ready to learn math faster?” It is a good idea to know the concepts they will tackle in their first years at school so that you can introduce them to the ideas and vocabulary that will help them feel confident. Choosing the right toys and introducing the activities here will give them a flying start, too.
Here’s an overview of what you need to know from teachers of mathematics in Dubai.
The Early Math Curriculum
The more formal maths that children learn later in school, like algebra and geometry, should be based on a really strong understanding of the most basic concepts. These should be introduced during the child’s first few years of life. Teachers will want children to be sure of these ideas before moving on to trickier concepts like addition and multiplication. Here’s what the youngest children can learn.
1. Counting and correspondence
Young children can learn to count accurately (one, two, three, and so on) in order. Some preschoolers will also be ready to learn to recognize written numbers.
A skill that really needs practice in the early years is “correspondence.” This means that the word “one” represents one object, “two” equals two of something, etc. It is very common for children to be able to say the numbers in order, but not yet be able to actually count things out and accurately tell you how many there are at the end. This in turn enables them to learn math faster.
2. Spatial sense
These skills are the earliest foundations for geometry. Your preschooler should be learning basic ideas about shape, size, position, and direction. The most basic ideas and vocabulary you can introduce now are concepts like round and straight, up and down, above and below, next to, and big and small.
It’s probably too early to teach your child how to use scales or a ruler but you can introduce basic ideas of measurement. Counting out cups of flour or containers of water are ways of measuring volume, and counting steps across the room measure distance.
Estimation is one of the trickiest concepts for small children to understand, although as adults we use this learned skill incredibly often. Help them now by teaching them about more and less, bigger and smaller.
5. Problem solving
Problem-solving is a skill that has applications not just in math but in every aspect of life. It’s never too early to help your child become an effective problem solver. What do we mean by problem-solving? Your child can learn that when they don’t know something, they need to start with what they do know and find a path to working the rest out.
Children learn to solve problems by watching others solve problems in everyday life. They can also be taught to use trial and error. There are some excellent learning toys that encourage early problem-solving skills. Read on to find out more.
5 Top toys and activities for practicing math skills with young children:
1. Counting practice
Model number correspondence by counting out small amounts of things with your child and pointing as you go. Count out anything you like, such as building blocks or pieces of fruit, and try to do so as often as possible.
You could also make a routine of counting the stairs in your home every time you climb them with your child.
2. Number spotting fun
Make a game of spotting number symbols when you are out and about with your child. “Let’s see how many times we can spot the number 2,” for example. Build this skill up slowly one digit at a time. This activity will also demonstrate to your child just how much we use number systems and how important the language of math is to everyday life thereby helping them to learn math faster.
3. Building blocks
Most math teachers agree that building blocks are the number one learning toy for young children. Not only can you count them out as suggested above, but playing with them also develops spatial sense and problem-solving.
Playing with blocks together with your child gives you an opportunity to teach them some really important early math vocabulary. Words you can introduce include:
- Side, edge and corner.
- Above and below.
- In front of, behind and next to.
4. Shape sorters and jigsaw puzzles
These are also great toys for working on early geometry and problem-solving skills. Shape sorters are your child’s ideal first introduction to awareness and vocabulary of shape. There are lots available with varying degrees of complexity.
Puzzles are also brilliant for working on trial and error problem-solving skills, spotting patterns, and spatial awareness. You can buy peg puzzles as well as 2-,3- and 4-piece jigsaws for very young children. As your child’s skills progress, you can move towards greater numbers of pieces and enable them to learn math faster.
Math teachers always encourage parents to bake with their children because it’s such a fun way to cover lots of different difficult math concepts. As well as measuring ingredients, you can count out the cookies or talk about the shape of the tin. Afterward, you can talk about sharing fairly; this is the earliest introduction to fractions. Baking is one of the most exciting ways of introducing “real-life” math to kids.
The most important thing to remember is to have fun with math. If your child doesn’t enjoy one of the activities or toys very much, it may be too early in their development; leave it and come back to it in a couple of months. Your child will only get the best start in math by loving every minute of playing and talking with you about numbers, shapes, time, and all the other early concepts.
Math classes for kids in any curriculum, wherever you are in the world, will build on the concepts described above. By following these ideas here, your child will feel confident using the language of math and will start school with good problem-solving skills, ready to make excellent progress from day one and help them to learn math faster.
Maloy Burman is the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Premier Genie FZ LLC. He is responsible for driving Premier Genie into a leadership position in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Education space in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa and building a solid brand value. Premier Genie is currently running 5 centers in Dubai and 5 centers in India with a goal to multiply that over the next 5 years.