I was walking Chris (5 yo) to school yesterday (as we do most days) and was stopped by his Principal. He commented, “You always are counting when you come to school. I wish more parents would do that with their kids.” So it got me thinking; what are some easy-peasy ways parents can support their kiddos with math in the early years? Here are 5 ideas that you could start TODAY! Choose 1 or 2, and use them every day for a few weeks to really see their number sense and mad math skills bloom! Please comment with other ideas as well so we can have a huge vat of fantastic learning opportunities to use with our babes!!!
- Counting, Counting, Counting! We do count on the way to school. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. At first, it was to 20, then to 50, and now we are up to 150! We count by 1’s most days, but sometimes we go rogue and count by 10’s (gasp!). Just like singing the alphabet, rote counting is a must to learn numbers. Start with 1’s, then 10’s for Kinders and younger. Move to 2’s, 5’s, 3’s, etc… and you have provided a solid foundation for initial multiplication! Move to counting by 1/2’s, 1/4’s, 1/3’s (you get the idea) and you are rocking initial fractions! Start with a different value that 1 and you are moving mountains!
- Counting Forwards AND Backwards: Stairs are great for this. Count up when you go up stairs, down when you go down. Don’t know how many stairs? Start at 20 and count down. If you don’t hit 0, oh well!
- I have...: In the produce section of the grocery store, you need 6 potatoes. Ask you tiny human, “I have 2. How many more do I need to have 6?” This is AMAZINGNESS! I cannot tell you how many teachers have students who struggle with missing addend problems. This will help so much!!! Do it at home with the silverware. “We need 4 plates. I have 1. How many more do I need?” The opportunities are endless for this!
- Sort! Sort! Sort! Kids can sort the silverware that comes out of the dishwasher (Take out sharp objects first, please!), socks, toys, coins (when you are at a restaurant or doctor’s office), mail, school work, books, buttons, etc. Sorting is super important, as it builds the idea of structure and patterns as well as organizing and classifying information.
- Guess my Number: A car-time fav in our family. “I am thinking of a number. It is bigger than 5 and smaller than 10. What is my number?” And you can amp this up for older students as well. Use multiples, even/odd, negative values, fractions, square roots, etc. And once they get the hang of it, each person in the car gets a turn to be the number-chooser. Super easy, and builds magnitude of numbers, place value, and relational thinking.