With the following mathematical concepts you can start teaching your child math’s as early as the tender age of three. Of course I’m not talking about symbolic math’s, but rather simple, real life examples. In a really fun way, you can teach and encourage your child to explore, sort, represent and classify in a few simple steps. Giving them repeated opportunities at home will reinforce what they are learning at Kindergarten and preschool. Private kindergartens such as those found in Musashisakai and local private daycare will also teach these concepts.
A word about mathematics and local private kindergartens.
Every private kindergarten will have its own particular slant towards or away from mathematics. While some local private kindergartens in our area may place a heavy emphasis on mathematics, (due mainly to the culture of the owners), our private kindergarten takes a more balanced approach. We would state here that in terms of the future of education, creativity should be given at least equal weight to subjects such as mathematics. We do not believe that symbolic math’s should be taught at the kindergarten level. However we understand that forming basic mathematical concepts in the early years is very important for cognitive development. Therefor, in order to prepare young children for symbolic mathematics at primary school, we recommend parents reinforce the following concepts at home to give a solid grounding from which to start the mathematical journey.
The following sixteen concepts are taken from the book “Learning in Early Childhood “by J. Hoghen & D. Wasley]
(The examples given are mine, some of which we use at our private kindergarten based in Musashino, Tokyo).
- ORDER: Collect or buy an assortment of beads. Work together to string the beads as you make a hanging mobile for your child’s room. Repeat the same bead pattern for each length of string. Let your child select the repeated bead order as you go.
- LENGTH: How many steps does it take to go from the front of your house to the back? How about up the stairs?
- COMPARISON: The next time you go shopping buy different sized fruit. (A large and small apple for example) Then point out the difference to your child. Alternatively point out the differences between your child and their sibling.
- SHAPES: Get your child to trace shapes on paper or buy a few simple jigsaw puzzles.
- CAPACITY: Fill a big and little cup with water. Pour the little cup into a bottle and mark its level. Tip the water out and then pour in the big cup and mark that too. Try this with different sized bottles and talk about the differences. Alternatively take a bucket outside and ask your child if all the leaves will fit inside.
- MASS: Put three big rocks into a jar and take a picture on your smart phone. Then put three small rocks in the same jar and take another picture. Flick the pictures back and forth and ask your child to look at how much jar space is filled up in each picture.
- ESTIMATION: Guess how many grapes in a small bunch? How many seeds in an apple?
- EQUALITY: Get a glass of water. Get another glass of the same size and ask your child to fill it up to the same level. Get your child to place the two glasses side by side then add or subtract to get the two levels equal. Alternatively cut a piece of string in half and show your child how each length is the same.
- SUBTRACTION: Give your child 4 apples and pretend they are the shop keeper. If he/she sells you 2 how many apples are left? Put three cream biscuits on a plate and let your child eat 1, how many are left? (Usually none by the end of this lesson!)
- MULTIPLICATION: Put 2 bananas and 2 oranges in a box. How much fruit is in the box? Alternatively whip up an extra batch of cookie mix and ask your child to pour them out. Ask how many more biscuits we can make?
- GROUPING: Get out the coloured blocks and get your child to put them in groups according to colour. After dinner get your child to help you wash up by placing all the cutlery in respective groups by the sink.
- WEIGHT: Present your child with a AAA and AA battery and ask them which is lighter or easier to hold. (Caution: Never give a button battery to your child as these can be fatal if swallowed).
- COUNTING: Look up some counting songs on Google or place similar objects out in a line to count.
- DIVISION: Give your child an apple and get them put it on a plate. Help them to cut it in half. Point out the two halves now on the plate. Alternatively this is an opportunity to share. Place 2 treats on a plate in an accessible location. Ask your child to bring them to you. Ask, how many? Take 1 each and ask how many have you got now? How many have I got now? Eat them together.
- NUMERALS: Cut out cardboard numbers and get your child to put them in order. Alternatively practice writing numbers or tracing them.
- ADDITION: Get your child to draw all the members of your Immediate family. Then ask them count them. Now add Grandparents and family friends and ask “How many now?” To extend this further add any pets you may have.
These are just some mathematical concepts that you can very easily start teaching your kids at home. It's a great way to introduce this important subject to your child and it canreally stimulate cognitive development. Remember to repeat these concepts at least a few times and be sure to revisit the ideas in different ways at later occasions. When these concepts are reinforced at Kindergarten your child will then be well on the way to begin their discovery of symbolic mathematics at primary school.