Developing mathematics skills begin long before children enter formal schooling. In fact, preschool and toddler aged children are constantly playing with math. They naturally sort and organize. They build and design. These are mathematical skills children have a natural interest in and their beginning development comes through the very natural act of playing.
It is all good and well to say that math skills develop naturally, but young children also benefit from purposeful preschool math activities.
How to Teach Math to Preschoolers
Young children love to play with mathematics, and through their play is where some of the strongest mathematical connections will be made. These connections will provide them with the right foundation to learn formal math with ease, however, unfortunately many elementary aged children claim they hate math!
So this begs us to ask a question of ourselves as parents and teachers: What has happened to their enjoyment and confidence? Where has the joy gone? The joy they used to experience when building math skills?
The early years allow children to explore mathematics in a natural way. Through hands-on activities and play!
And it is through purposeful and active lessons that preschoolers can be taught a strong foundation in all disciplines in math.
The Five Disciplines of Math
They are not just for high school students, or middle school, or just for elementary students. The five disciplines of math also apply to preschoolers.
It may sound intimidating, but it isn’t, and the instruction in all five disciplines in absolutely necessary. They are:
- number sense
- data analysis
You might be thinking, “Seriously, I supposed to teach algebra to preschoolers?!”
Well, yes, but if you stop to think about it, teaching all five disciplines is not only easier than you think, it is also developmentally appropriate for preschoolers, too! And, it is completely necessary for a complete and well-rounded preschool education.
What the Five Disciplines of Math Look Like in Preschool
Think about it like this: the following are some basic strands within each discipline.
- counting, number identification, addition and subtraction (number sense)
- patterns, comparing and sorting (algebra)
- shape identification, shape differentiation (geometry)
- comparing sizes, lengths and weights (measurement)
- graphing, simple estimation (data analysis)