Everyday Math

May 31, 2018
Everyday Math

We all use basic math language – without even realizing it! 

This week’s tip from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) shows us how sorting, measuring, and shapes are all early math skills. Below are five ways how parents can help their children develop early math knowledge from the day they are born.

1. Numbers and Quantity

The concept of more, usually related to food, is one of the first uses of math that a child understands. You can weave counting, order, and numbers into conversation with your child by saying: “You have two eyes, and so does your bear. Let’s count!”, or “I have more berries than you – I have three, and you have two”, or “That’s the third time I’ve heard you ask for water!”

2. Shapes and Spatial Relationships

Learning shapes and understanding spatial relationships is the beginning of geometry. Start by identifying simple shapes in everyday items like food or toys. You can then familiarize your child with concepts like under/over, behind/in front, close/far by saying “You’re sitting next to your sister,” or “That car is far away.”

3. Measurement

Size, weight, quantity, volume, and time can all be measured. Introduce this concept by saying “Use both hands with that water cup – it’s heavy,” or “You had a long nap,” or “Let’s count how many steps it takes to reach the mailbox.”

4. Patterns, Relationships and Change

Recognizing repetition and the relationships that make up a pattern are the basic building blocks of algebra.  Show your child examples by pointing out the stripes or polka dots on a t-shirt, clapping to the beat of a song, or looking at how much a plant in your kitchen has grown.  Even going for a walk and describing how some things are the same, like houses on the street, and some things are different, like plants, is a great way to enrich an everyday experiences.

5. Collecting and Organizing Information

Gathering, classifying, and analyzing information doesn’t have to include a complicated data set. There are plenty of opportunities around the house to help your child sort and organize. For example, tell them, “Let’s pick up our toys – put the dolls in the basket and the blocks in the toy box,” or “The small lid goes on the small bowl, and the big lid goes on the big bowl.”

For even MORE ideas, check out these resources from the Parenting Center team and SeedlingsGroup.

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