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When to start teaching maths

I don’t want to sound like some pushy mum, but at what age should I be starting maths activities with my child?

Maths is everywhere. Your child has been developing math concepts and skills from the moment they were born. You are most likely using basic math language all the time without realizing it. For example, changing nappies, meal and bath times, and shopping trips are ideal times to count, point out shapes and sizes, talk about patterns, and describe how things are the same and different.

When we are aware of early math concepts, we can be more thoughtful in our everyday interactions with young children. Here are five basic math concepts that can be use in our everyday conversations with young children that connects to their real life experiences.

1. Number and operations—understanding the concept of number, quantity, order, ways of representing numbers, one-to-one correspondence (that one object corresponds to one number), and counting. “You have two eyes, and so does your bear. Let’s count:--1,

2.” “I have more crackers than you do. See, I have 1, 2, 3, and you have 1, 2. I’m going to eat one of mine. Now I have the same as you!” “That’s the third time I’ve heard you say dadda. You’ve said dadda three times!” 2. Shapes and spatial relationships (geometry)—recognizing and naming shapes, understanding the physical relationship between yourself and other objects and the relationships between objects. “Look, Jason went under the climber and Aliyah is on top!” “You’re sitting next to your brother.” “Some of the crackers we have today are square, and some are round.”

3. Measurement—size, weight, quantity, volume, and time. “Moving that chair is hard. It’s heavy.” “Your nap lasted a long time today!” “Let’s count how many steps it takes to reach the mailbox.”

4. Patterns, relationships, and change—recognizing (seeing the relationships that make up a pattern) and/or creating repetitions of objects, events, colours, lines, textures, and sounds; understanding that things change over time and that change can be described with math words. These are the basic building blocks of algebra! “Daddy has stripes on his shirt—white, blue, white, blue, white, blue.” ”Let’s clap to the beat of this song.” “I put the blocks in the bucket; you dump them out. I put the blocks back in the bucket; you dump them out!” “Our plant looks taller today. I think it grew overnight.”

5. Collecting and organizing information—gathering, sorting, classifying, and analyzing information (data) to help make sense of what is happening in the environment. “Let’s put the big lid on the big bowl and the small lid on the small bowl.” “You always smile when Mommy sings to you!” “Let’s put the dolls in the basket and the balls in the box.”

(Adapted from NAEYC, 2010) 

Sharon McKinlay

Sharon McKinlay

Early Learning Consultant, Goodstart Early Learning

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