Teaching math seems overwhelming… but it can actually be really fun! Math does not necessarily mean boring worksheets or endless repetition. Learning math means recognizing patterns, order, and systems. The earlier we can establish these fundamentals in our children, the more ingrained and ‘natural’ they become.
So, here are some basic concepts you can focus on with your young children, to help foster a love for all things math! I’ve also found some fun, free resources to go along with each math skill so you don’t need to stress about the “how” of teaching it.
Knowing how to count seems like an obvious starting point when it comes to raising mathematicians. However, you would be surprised how many children struggle with one-to-one correspondence. (This is just ‘teacher talk’ for touching one object while counting.) Slowing down and taking the time to teach counting correctly, will give your children mathematical confidence galore.
Simple Application: Anytime there’s an opportunity to count; Take it! Learning will be solidified even further if your child can actually touch what they are counting. For example, counting and moving blocks, stuffed animals, or Cheerios.
Free Counting Resource: Grab this free counting + graphing resource by The Education Highway! Graphing and counting go hand-in-hand, so this is a fun way to practice two skills together. Plus, you get printable AND digital options, all for free.
When it comes to teaching shapes, repetition is vital. Luckily, shapes are EVERYWHERE, so they’re easy to reinforce. We all know the LeapFrog toys have already done a pretty good job of introducing shapes to our children ;). So now we can help them better understand shapes by counting sides or having them draw shapes. Shape magnets are a staple at our house. My boys could spend
Simple Application: Next time you’re at the park, ask your child to find as many circles, rectangles, squares, etc. as they can.
Free Resource: Grab this super fun Geometric Shape Sort by Just Tinkerin’ Around!
When children learn to recognize patterns, this does not only help them become better mathematicians, it also helps them to become better overall learners. You can help them recognize patterns in math by creating simple ABA, ABC, or ABBA patterns. Use a variety of concepts to demonstrate these patterns; colors, shapes, letters, animals etc. Helping your children identify even seemingly, simple patterns is huge! For example, they may identify rhyming words as patterns or colors on their favorite toy as having patterns.
Simple Application: Grab a box of crayons and a piece of paper. Make a pattern that repeats at least two times. Have your child complete/repeat the pattern independently.
Free Resource: Practice the alphabet and use math manipulatives with these fun Pattern Printables (Letters & Math Blocks) by Sight Word Activities.
Greater Than, Less Than
Simple ideas, such as ‘greater than’ and ‘less than’ are often overlooked when teaching math concepts. The wonderful thing about this idea, is that it’s SO easy to teach!
Children have to have a basic understanding of how numbers, quantities, lengths, heights, etc can be larger or smaller than one another, comparatively. This understanding will set the stage for a strong number sense later in life. They will be able to recognize that adding numbers together should make larger numbers, while subtracting numbers from one another should make smaller numbers.
Simple Application: During snack time give your child less goldfish than yourself. Ask them; “Who has the greater/lesser amount of goldfish?” You may have to explain the word ‘greater’ means ‘more,’ and ‘lesser’ means ‘not as many.’
Free Resource: These no-prep worksheets from The Twenty Something Teacher are a great, easy way to practice these skills!
Simple Addition and Subtraction
Once your child has a firm grasp on counting, you can actually begin introducing simple addition and subtraction problems. The number one thing to remember when practicing this concept, is to KEEP IT CONCRETE! Always, always have some type of manipulative handy to reiterate what you are teaching. Little brains are not well-equipped for abstract thinking just yet. So, help them REALLY understand what they are doing by writing out the number sentence AND using manipulatives (blocks, snacks, small toys, etc.)
Simple Application: Write out a few addition and subtraction problems on a sheet of paper, have your children demonstrate the problem using a small snack. The fun thing about using snacks, is that they can actually eat their snack when demonstrating subtraction :).
Free Resource: This pack of 10 free worksheets by Carla Hoff help kids practice their math AND fine motor skills! Win win!
Keep it Fun!
Remember, your children will always feed off of your energy. So keep learning positive and fun! The more fun your children are having while learning, the better their attitudes towards math are likely to be .
If your kids are ready for more, I have addition and subtraction word problem sets available in my store.
Each set comes with 50 printable cards AND a set of interactive, self-checking Boom cards for virtual learning (or just for fun!)
What is your favorite part of teaching math? Drop your comments below!