The Importance of Early Math Education on ahschool.com

It is more than 1-2-3

Preschool and kindergarten classes concentrate mostly on developing reading and writing skills. Young students must begin learning the basics of language, associating letters with words and words with meaning. However, some education experts believe that preschools are failing to teach early math skills.

Math education in early education

How little emphasis do most preschool or kindergarten programs put on math skills? One study indicated that on average preschools students spend less than 58 seconds per day learning math. There is almost no emphasis on teaching anything beyond basic numbers or counting.

Why early math education matters

Experts believe that developing early math skills is vital for a student's future academic success. According to GreatSchools.org, "The more math-oriented activities kids do before kindergarten, the better they'll understand math in school. Early math skills foretell higher aptitude in high school math and higher rates of college enrollment."

Beyond counting 1 through 10

Early math education consists mostly of practicing counting in much the same way kids are taught the alphabet. Experts contend that this merely leads to children memorizing numbers, but they do not learn what the numbers mean. Sure, they can say 1–10, but they might not be able to hand you three of something.

Constructing age-appropriate early math education

Of course, early math education must be age-appropriate, or efforts will lead to confusion and frustration for young students. According to MathSolutions.com "...activities designed around finding, sorting and classifying objects are highly useful and can be instrumental in increasing young children's abilities to group objects, recognize and create patterns, make and use generalizations, advance counting skills, and approach problems in multiple ways."

Young children have a natural ability to recognize when there is more than one item. They also recognize differences in sizes, big to small. They can be taught how to sort and compare groups, while toys like blocks, puzzles or LEGO's can teach shapes and spatial skills, which have a benefit in math and writing readiness and can even help increase IQ scores.

Here are five activities teachers and parents can do to promote early math education

  1. Numbers on the floor. Give a child pieces of paper with numbers on them. He or she must find the matching number on the floor. This activity is a good activity to do with a classroom or a group of children because they can work together to make the matches.
  2. Connect the dots. Give a child cards with dots on them. Have him or her count or say how many dots are on each card. The student then represents the number by clapping. If there are three dots, the child should clap three times.
  3. How big? Have a student make patterns representing small/medium/big using their bodies. This activity keeps students moving and also helps them learn to compare sizes and lengths.
  4. Numbers in context. Help a student learn to count in context. Start with a number he or she recognizes like two. Show the student two of an object (dinosaurs, shells, or coins). Add a third object and say "three," then another and say "four" so he or she begins to associate the number with the objects.
  5. Play games. When a child plays, his or her brain works hard. Hands-on activities like building blocks, board games, and card games have all been shown to elevate math skills. Games with dice can help teach addition.

Early math education is critical for ensuring future academic achievement. An emphasis on teaching math to preschool and kindergarten students can help them develop logic and critical thinking, and improve grades and test scores.


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