Mathematics can be a difficult subject and concept for many children and adults to grasp and comprehend. While some children may understand math concepts instinctively, others may struggle with relatively easier concepts. This is where your parental role comes into play. There are several ways that parents can assist their children in practicing, mastering, and improving their mathematics skills in order for them to succeed in this important subject.
It does not have to be difficult to introduce math to your child. Without even noticing it, we use mathematical language all the time: from using size comparison words like ‘big’ and ‘little’ to counting the number of utensils to put out for a family meal.
It is critical to first develop these before attempting to introduce more advanced concepts.
Early math refers to the mathematical concepts and skills that a child develops informally during his or her first few years of life. These are also known as pre-math or early numeracy skills.
When it comes to teaching your child math, you may immediately think of numbers and try to teach your preschooler how to count, recognize numbers, and add and subtract them, but these are actually some of the more advanced early mathematical skills.
It is critical to first understand how children acquire mathematical concepts.
The Concrete Pictorial Abstract Approach
The three stages of learning any mathematical concept are
Children must physically experience a concept during the concrete stage. By holding one block, they must develop an understanding of one item.
Playing with concrete objects teaches children that there can be one object, multiple objects, fewer objects, more objects, and so on.
Many mathematical processes are taking place while a child and his friend construct a block tower. More, less, one more, not enough, how many, plenty, fewer, take away, and add on are all picked up on.
Children compare objects and learn that objects can have values.
Children can see a picture of an object and understand that it represents a real object in the pictorial stage, which follows the concrete stage.
A child, for example, can look at a picture and understand that the four leaves represent four actual leaves.
A child can later see a dice with four dots on it and assign the value four, knowing that the dots could theoretically represent any object.
They could then add the four dots on one dice to the three dots on the other to get a total of seven dots.
This is the last step in comprehending a mathematical concept. It means that a child can look at a sum, such as 4 + 5, written in number symbols, and add it without the use of concrete objects or pictures.
The child has grown old enough to recognize that the symbols 4 and 3 represent a number of objects to be added.
The majority of preschoolers are in the concrete stage.
In fact, until the third or fourth grade, any good teacher will introduce a new concept in a concrete way before moving on to books or worksheets with examples to solve.
When children grasp a concept concretely, it is much easier for them to solve abstract problems.
This means that pushing a preschooler to count pictures of objects or understand the value of number symbols is premature and will lead to frustration.
You may want to introduce your child to numbers (for example, by playing with wooden numbers like these or magnetic number tiles) or counting rhymes, but don’t expect your child to understand the value of these numbers just yet.
The most effective way to teach preschoolers mathematical skills is through their primary mode of learning – play!
This means that during the early years, children do not require formal lessons, activity sheets, workbooks, or anything else that appears to be “real work.” Expose them to these activities in a playful way to ensure that they have a firm grasp of mathematical concepts.
Learning math begins with counting. You can start teaching your child to count and other basic math concepts at a very young age, believe it or not. Put three apples on the table, for example, and invite your child to count them with you. This type of activity helps young children begin to grasp the concept of numbers in their simplest form.
Find other small objects to count out loud, such as shells or beads. “Look! We have one, two, three, four, five orange beads.” You can also group them together. “Let’s make three three-button piles.” This is an excellent way to introduce numbers and operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division).
You don’t have to use objects to teach your child how to count; you could also practice counting with them by counting out loud how many steps they take or how many times they clap their hands.
Discuss the shapes you see around you with your child. Perhaps you’ll notice a round stone or a square sign on your walk together. “Look, that house’s door is a red rectangle!” Introducing your child to these fundamental spatial sense skills – the concepts of shape, size, space, and direction – will benefit them later in school when they begin geometry.
Recognizing patterns and relationships lays the groundwork for later in life learning equations. Try playing a sorting game with objects around your house to introduce these concepts to your toddler in a fun way. “Assign the red lentils to one basket and the green lentils to the other.” You can also arrange the objects in a pattern. “Let’s make a row of lentils: red, green, red, green.”
Cooking together provides an excellent opportunity for your child to learn about measurement and counting. Give them age-appropriate tasks and keep a close eye on them while you create your culinary masterpiece! Discuss how much rice you require for your meal and demonstrate how you measure it. If you’re making a snack, count out the food on your plate: “One, two, three, four berries in our snack.”
Stacking objects teaches young children about size estimation and the relationship between different sized objects. You could build a tower with blocks, empty boxes, empty cartons, or other child-safe objects you have lying around the house. Discuss how the pieces fit together and, if the tower falls, why that happened. See how far you can fly!
Take note of how the sizes of the objects you see compare to one another. A market or a grocery store are excellent places to do this together. “This mango is significantly larger than that one.” You can also ask your child which item they believe is smaller or larger. This helps your toddler to work on building those important spatial senses and measurement skills.
When teaching children math concepts, pictures can be very useful. Incorporating visual aids and pictures can help children who are just learning to count understand concepts. Pictures can be used to teach children addition and subtraction in addition to helping them learn what each number looks like. If your little one is having trouble grasping these types of basic math concepts, pictures can make all the difference.
When teaching children mathematics, flashcards are also an effective teaching tool. They provide a hands-on learning experience and can be easily made at home with common household items. For example, if your child is having difficulty remembering the number five, there is no need to go out and buy expensive flashcards from the store. Instead, take some index cards and use a marker to write the numbers one through five on each card. Then use a dry erase marker or crayon to draw the corresponding amount of objects on each of the dots representing that particular number. Draw four stars on four dots and five stars on the fifth dot in this case. Repeat for the numbers one through five.
You can teach your child about various math concepts in a variety of ways by incorporating hands-on teaching tools, many of which can be found around your home or at school. While these teaching aids are primarily designed to teach children how to count, they can also be used to help them learn other fundamental math concepts. Before introducing any of these teaching tools, consider how your child learns best. Otherwise, they may be more of a nuisance than an asset to both of you.
Math games are a simple and enjoyable way for children to learn how to solve math problems while having fun. The process of addition is used in games such as Baffle and Dominoes. To make learning more accessible to your child, teach them how to play a variety of math games at home using common household items.
It is even easier to teach children mathematics when you use everyday items. A ruler, for example, can be used to teach children about measurements, and an egg carton can be used to demonstrate the concept of multiplication with small groups of objects.
Math does not have to be a dull, boring experience for children. There are numerous ways to incorporate math concepts into your daily life to make learning more interesting and engaging.
If your child is learning about fractions, for example, you can cut an apple into two equal-sized pieces so he or she can see what “half” looks like. When teaching is woven into children’s daily lives rather than from a textbook or in a traditional classroom setting, they are more likely to grasp the concept.
These are just a few of the simple methods you can use to help children reinforce basic math concepts. Follow these guidelines to get started teaching your child math quickly and effectively. Math concepts are an essential part of your child’s academic journey because they are required for success in school and beyond. Use these suggestions to make math more enjoyable and engaging for your child.
Here at Nakuru Homeschooling, we strive to empower children by identifying, acknowledging, and appreciating the diverse needs and talents of each child, and helping them know and understand they are accepted and valued for their uniqueness. Visit our website to find out more!
Parents can enhance their mastery of mathematics by enrolling them in an online program to further enhance their maths skills.