Preschool is a great time to spark curiosity about reading in your young child. Let them explore early skills with these preschool reading activities that use easy-to-find materials and clear instructions for fun and engaging learning! Learning letters and focusing on words your preschooler already knows. The many dimensions of math
Even for young children, math is more than just a numbers game. Math has many dimensions, including:
- Number sense (e.g., the numeral “4” represents four objects, which is greater that 3 and less than 5)
- Geometry (e.g., patterns and shapes, each with unique features)
- Measurement (e.g., size, distance, amount)
- The language of math (e.g., more than, less than, equal to)
- Spatial relations (e.g., in front of or behind; near or far)
Watch a young child — at home or in the preschool classroom — and, over the course of a day, you’ll likely be surprised at the number of ways that math is expressed, in words and in actions.
Preschoolers learn math by exploring their world
Much attention and research has been focused on early reading over the past few decades and researchers are now catching up to learn more about early math learning and instruction. What they’ve learned so far is intriguing. For example, researchers have found that young children are, by nature, curious about math. They have good evidence that math becomes real to young children as they use it by talking, reasoning, playing, and doing. And, they have a better understanding of how preschoolers’ early exploration of math helps them make sense of their world and what kinds of instruction and practice are needed to help them build new skills and deepen their knowledge. One somewhat surprising research finding is that preschoolers appear to learn math concepts and operations in a much less predictable sequence than they do when learning to read. Most young children acquire reading awareness and skills in a fairly linear fashion. Think of it this way: Imagine a tower of blocks, with necessary skills — like print awareness — providing a foundation on which to build other skills — like phonemic awareness. Early math learning, on the other hand, is more like assembling a jigsaw puzzle, with children mastering math concepts in no set sequence but still managing to assemble the complete picture over time. While there is no agreed-upon continuum for learning early math, researchers have identified areas of math learning with specific “growth points” that young children achieve as they become more skilled math learners . (These findings are based on the work of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel and the Early Childhood Mathematics project of the National Academy of Sciences.)
Gauging a preschooler’s grasp of math
Preschoolers may learn about math through a variety of pathways, but by age 3 or 4 a child should have a good grasp of certain math concepts and be able to perform basic math operations. Keep in mind that a child may be strong in some aspects of math but have difficulty with others. Some math skills and operations call upon “non-math” skills, such as reading text, fine motor skills, and memory. Be sure to consider all of your child’s academic strengths and weaknesses when searching for the root cause of a possible math problem. Preschool teachers should use basic math assessment techniques to determine a baseline for the student’s math literacy level; doing so will help inform decisions about what to teach and how to monitor progress. And parents should be invited (and encouraged) to share with the teacher what they know about their child’s basic math abilities and attitudes.
Educational Websites: Star Falls and ABCYA