As math grows more important for the careers of the future, a quality preschool math curriculum will play a crucial role in preparing your child for a lifetime of success.
Knowledge of math at ages 3 to 5 improves kindergarten readiness and predicts future achievement well into high school, and kids with better math skills in early childhood are more likely to attend college. Early math also promotes development of other skills including oral language, vocabulary, grammar and drawing inferences.
But what if your child has trouble picking up math?
Despite its importance, many students struggle with math beginning with the preschool years, and U.S. children have been found to lag behind their international peers in math achievement as early as kindergarten.
The good news is there are things you can do to help your child with the preschool math curriculum.
Here are some considerations to keep in mind.
- Remember that all children learn at their own pace. Let’s say one child takes a little longer than a sibling to learn to count from 1 to 5. Don’t panic! Every child is unique with different aptitudes and interests. Patience, persistence and consistent encouragement are essential.
- Set a positive example. Do you catch yourself making negative comments like “math is too hard” or “I’m not a math person?” Remember, your kids are listening! Even if it isn’t your personal strong suit, present math as a useful tool that helps us in many ways everyday.
- Engage in “number talk.” A study published in Developmental Psychology observed how often parents used “number words” when interacting with their preschool children. Examples included phrases like “five fingers,” “three bears,” or even poems like “one, two, buckle my shoe.” The results showed that preschoolers had a better understanding of number words the more their parents used them in conversation.
- Include math during play. A great time to talk with your child about math is during play time. After all, numbers are less intimidating when they’re fun! Examples include counting the number of blocks in a tower or pieces in a small puzzle. Creative toys like crayons and homemade playdough offer a chance to practice concepts like larger-smaller and longer-shorter. You can also provide lots of great storybooks with numbers that make learning about math a more enjoyable, relaxing experience for your child.
- Show your child the “why” of math. Let’s say Grandma and Grandpa are coming over for dinner. Math helps us measure the ingredients while cooking, so our meal tastes good. It tells us how many forks, plates and cups to use when setting the table. The temperatures in the weather report help us choose what to wear if we go outside — do we need coats and sweaters or t-shirts and shorts? Seeing these simple math concepts at work in the real world is more understandable than trying to memorize a bunch of numbers from the board.
- Talk to your child’s teacher. If your child has a hard time with a particular math lesson at school, the first step is to examine why. Ask the teacher if your child needs to spend a little more time on earlier, foundational concepts before progressing to the next level. Work with the teacher to identify activities at home and at school that will help your child succeed in math.
If your child’s difficulties in math persist, even after sustained efforts to help, seek advice from a pediatrician or child psychologist. As many as 10% of students are diagnosed with a math-related learning disability, and early detection is the key to providing interventions to promote achievement at school and beyond.
If you’d like information about hands-on math lessons at Little Sunshine’s Playhouse and Preschool®, contact a location near you today!
Check out our previous blogs to learn how Little Sunshine’s Playhouse® prepares your child for success in math and other subjects: