How important is parental support in children's math development? Sylvia Tobin, a Kindergarten teacher with 28 years of experience, gives us the low-down on how to set kids up for a lifetime of success in math.
Without further adieu, take it away, Sylvia! As a kindergarten teacher, I’m the first educator to greet your children when they start their school experience. I get excited when I see children entering school with an interest in, and an enthusiasm for, mathematics.
Research has shown children who are exposed to math early and who learn the basics at a young age are set for a lifetime of achievement in all aspects of their academic performance.
As parents, we are the first teachers our children have. Giving our kids an opportunity to get a head start in math is one of the best things we can do for their future successes. Experts say earlier is better when it comes to introducing basic math. A child who develops early math skills is more likely to be successful in later academic pursuits.
I’ve heard lots of parents over the years expressing a lack of confidence in their own math abilities. Children have an uncanny ability to sense an adult’s comfort with (or dislike of) certain things, and math is no exception.
We don’t need university degrees in math education to instill a positive attitude towards math in our children. We can be the catalysts for our child’s achievement in mathematics simply by providing opportunities that allow them to engage in math activities every day and by making early math fun.
Many daily situations provide parents with opportunities that engage children in mathematical thinking and problem solving and, at the same time, build their self-confidence and appreciation for mathematics.
Ways to Put Early Math on the Menu
We can make math a key part of our child’s early education simply by providing opportunities to talk about math and problem solve as they arise during the day:
- When setting the table, have your children figure out how many knives, forks, plates, and so on that you need and then have them count them out
- Look for the longest or shortest socks when sorting clothes
- Count how many benches there are when you go for a walk in the park
- Have your child figure out who has more grapes when serving snacks
- Look for signs of a certain shape as you drive to the babysitter’s house
- Use words to model and discuss measurement (i.e. “I wonder if your block tower is taller than the coffee table)
- Playing games like I Spy that emphasize math language (using words like “bigger,” “smaller,” “round,” “beside,” and so on)
- Providing toys, such as blocks, that allow for developing the concept of number, patterning and measurement
- Choosing books and educational videos/games focusing on math concepts
By making early math part of young children’s daily lives, you’ll help them develop skills, gain confidence, and become prepared for the future. For more ideas on how to make math fun for your children, pop over to our blog post 5 Ways to Make Math Fun for Early Learners!
Zorbit's Math Adventure is a fun and engaging online math game, currently available for kindergarten and grade 1 teachers and students. This adaptive, game-based learning program will improve your student's experiences with math, increase their level of understanding and performance, and will allow you to view your entire class's game performance from a high-level overview.