So many parents are concerned about how to get their young children up to snuff academically before they start kindergarten. It’s a huge thing in our society that children begin learning earlier and earlier. I’m going to take the next two days to discuss the best way young children learn mathematics and literacy.
We’ll start off with mathematics…
Here are the developmental milestones in math
- Older infants and younger toddlers can begin to understand the concepts of more and enough
- Begin to understand object permanence – that when an object is hidden from view that it is just hiding and has not fully disappeared.
- Infants begin to judge distance.
- In later infancy, and toddlerhood children begin to judge quantity by filling and emptying containers.
- Toddlers begin to understand that there is order to their days dinnertime leads to bedtime.
- Two year olds may understand the words one and two and hold up one or two fingers when asked.
- Learn how to sort objects by their physical attributes.
- Begin to correctly use words like big, little, fast or slow.
- Begin to figure out how to make patterns and sequences
All of these skills are necessary to master before formal math lessons (like adding and subtracting) can be understood. Many parents try to rush their children to learn their numbers and how to count so that they aren’t behind in school. Please remember that these basic math skills are imperative to more formal learning of math skills. My very good friend Melissa, who happens to be a Kindergarten teacher, says that it’s important to build a strong foundation of early skills and to not have children just memorize facts. For example a child may say that 100+100=200, but does this child understand the quantity of 100?
So…what should parents and teachers do to foster these skills?
- Provide toys that a child can easily sort into different groups (like blocks, colored beads, colored shapes, etc).
- Observe a child’s play and label things for them along the way…”oh you found a blue block”. This helps with classification.
- Compare and contrast objects throughout the day. “This leaf is green and this one is brown”.
- Talk about objects attributes throughout the day. Point out different shapes, colors, textures, etc.,
- Get musical!
- Offer children water or sand with a few containers to fill and dump.
- Have child help put like items together like socks with shoes, lids with pots, or forks and spoons.
- Count objects throughout the day. Count out how many grapes a child has at snack time.
- Puzzles are great for math concepts and understanding shapes.
Activity #18: Make Shapes!
- Get out the cookie cutters and make shapes in playdough or in sugar cookies (great Christmas activity too!)
- For older children: let them find objects to trace that make different shapes.
- Cut shapes out of sponges, dip in paint, and then onto paper
- Make a sensory tray with different shapes inside
- Use a light table and gather objects with different shapes to place on top.
Remember to talk to your children during the activities and discuss the different shapes they see.
Tomorrow: Literacy and Language Development