As the most important teacher to your child, you have a major role. Every day you are teaching. You may not feel like you are trying to teach but you are. Your child would be in big trouble if you were not her every day teacher.
One of the important ways you help your little one be ready for school is to help her be excited about math. Being excited about her growing math skills will encourage her to learn more math.
Be pleased with her progress as she learns to count and as she increases her math skills. Watch the progress she makes as she gets older and closer to school age. Find ways to help her solve problems using numbers.
Here are a few ways to help her become a number-friendly child as she sees how useful math is:
1. Ask her to count raisins as she gets them out of the box. If she can only count a few, then have her put raisins in several piles that she counts out. Talk about it when she is done so she can hear how pleased you are as she progresses.
2. Count the pieces of gravel or the leaves on the sidewalk. You are trying to keep math in her memory so look around and see what she can count.
3. Play games together. This teaches taking turns and frequently some kind of math. Even if it is counting moves she makes, she is learning numbers.
4. Let her help you measure the coffee for breakfast. Measuring anything will help her learn about quantity.
5. Paint out things shaped like circles, squares, triangles and rectangles. Label them enough that she will learn what each of these shapes is. Then she can name them.
6. Give her a chance to sort things like laundry, toys and pencils. She can sort by size, shape, color, or taste. Sorting can be fun but also a learning experience.
7. Have her predict how long things will take. How many second or minutes will it take to lean her room or put her clothes away? Having a time really adds to the fun.
8. Avoid long lessons on counting; instead, look for chances to sneak in counting whenever possible without overdoing it. Remember, your preschoolers has a short attention span. Be creative in finding math opportunities without wearing out her interest.
9. Check out your computer. Go to her age and see the ways they suggest she learn math skills. Don’t let her spend too much time on the computer. Vary what she is doing.
10. Be excited with her progress. Nothing encourages more learning than to feel positive about the learning you have already experienced.
The key is having fun. Numbers will be important in her life and she needs to learn to like them. Now is the time to begin. Then it is up to you to look for more ways to encourage math as it becomes more and more complicated.
It all begins in these early years. It also begins with dedicated parents who are the child’s teacher.
Cynthia Martin is the founder of the First Teacher program and former executive director of Parenting Matters Foundation, which publishes newsletters for parents, caregivers and grandparents. To reach First Teacher Executive Director Patty Waite, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 360-681-2250.