We may not always notice, but preschool age children are practicing math skills every day through play. If you observe a group of preschoolers in play you’ll quickly note that they naturally sort, recognize shapes, count and sequence important items, understand an item’s weight and create patterns. As with any skill, ensuring the basic, foundational concepts are well understood by toddler and preschool age children is key to all future math achievements. Let’s explore some ways to encourage your toddler or preschooler’s math skills using daily routines!
Everyday routines provide an excellent opportunity for toddler and preschool math skills practice!
If developmentally appropriate and safe for your child, teaching them to set the table is an opportunity to practice patterns as well as counting. Verbal prompts such as, “there are four people in our family, can you set out four plates, forks and napkins?” will allow your child to practice basic number sequencing and the repetitive pattern of a plate, fork and napkin. (Paper plates may be a great option for this activity!)
As items are being added to the washer or removed from the dryer they can be counted which builds on sequencing skills. Folding and sorting items into piles based on who they belong to is a beginning step to collecting information and graphing skills. Items that are able to be matched, such as socks, give children a chance to observe and use their fine motor skills to find a pair.
A trip to the grocery store can be a fun chance to practice math! Point out shapes as things are added to the cart and ask children to help search for different shapes they see in the aisles. Depending on the age and development of your child they may be able to help you with specific counting directions such as, “can you please pick out five, red apples?” giving them the opportunity to be included in the experience!
When children understand the basics of sorting items by characteristics such as color, shape and size they will be able to more easily grasp the concept of categorizing and graphing information later on. Items such as play food, balls, legos, duplos and cars can be easily sorted by toddler and preschool age children.
Including children in cooking activities not only teaches powerful life skills but is also an occasion for math practice. These experiences spent together in the kitchen provide opportunity for measuring and counting ingredients, adding measurements, and estimating size.
In the zero – five years, math concepts are not always understood through worksheets or flashcards. Quite the opposite, research continues to show that these important, fundamental lessons are best learned early, naturally and through play!
Math skills such as sorting, identifying shapes, understanding weight, number sequences and identifying patterns are all able to be mastered by toddler and preschool age children.
Tools and games for building math skills at home