Why Teach Your Child Math?

Children ages 3 -5 know immediately if someone got more cookies than they did. They like telling their age, address, phone number. We can use this interest.

Sure the schools will teach the child but they will do it in large groups. With change of teachers or texts a child may miss out on one or two vital parts of the instruction.   Parents of small kids are wise to make sure their child has had some one-on-one instruction before school,  to make sure their child did get the basic skills down pat. So when the child asks about numbers, it’s wise to gently teach.

Since math competence is essential to adult life, budgeting, buying, taxes and   business it is becoming more and more important that parents  help. Their initial reluctance that they may do it wrong should be overcome. Math is a gateway and important enough that kids deserve our efforts here.  Even small efforts.  When parents show kids with real toys and food how to add and subtract they are showing the world is logical. The child will feel more competent. Math opens the door to science, engineering, medicine. Its logical problem-solving is useful in any discussion. You don’t have to tell the child all that though. It’s simply fun to show the child how numbers work as you play together – and the bonus to his self-esteem won’t hurt.

But how do you teach the very young?  Here are a few pointers from a teacher and mother.

The small child is interested in toys, food, games but has a short attention span. Given those facts, use cheese slices, cookies, candies, grapes, and toys the child likes. Demonstrate with them.  Any written part of learning, with paper and pen should take only 5-10 minutes a day.  The book part is to lay down in writing what the demonstrations show as fun.

I would suggest a very slow pace, not the whole number system at once. Teach each number one at a time, explaining the shape, showing examples. After learning 1-5 teach about pennies, nickels, adding and taking away. Let the child eat candies as he takes them away. That’s motivating. After learning the number six, count and play with dice. After learning seven study the days of the week and their names.

After teaching 8-10 teach the child about dimes, measuring on a line with ten points. Measure shoes, lamps, dolls  around the house. Drawing an abacus teach about 11 and then 12. Explain about the seasons and the names of the months.

Teach about feet and inches and measure using 12. Point out numbers on signs, calendars, phones, computers, clocks. Explain the logic of adding numbers and carrying the one. Teach the numbers 20-100 and demonstrate pennies, dollars. You can work with dominoes, playing cards and set up trains of toys to count. Teach to count by twos, by fives and the child can read gauges and dials. Teach the logic of Roman numerals.

The kitchen can be a great teaching resource  and the our writer Jean Warren has many great ideas to teach your child math in the kitchen. in Cutting up cake or breaking apart an orange teach about fractions, quarter, half. Show these concepts with a clock and teach how to tell time. Teach how to add and subtract fractions using real objects.

The key to teaching young kids is to enter their world of food and toys, and their logic system. Without pressure and just by playing together, you can give a vital competence and a great head start for school.

Bev Jaremko is a teacher and mother who has set up a website about such early math programs. It is at http://anchorsailsmath.tripod.com/preschool/. She can be contacted at 403-283-2400 phone or at  bjaremko@hotmail.com