Math is everywhere. Everyone needs to know some math as it is used daily in both school and real life. During the preschool years, the foundations of numeracy are being laid both at home and at school. Our job as Preschool Educators is to show the children how they can use mathematics to solve everyday problems and to teach the vocabulary of math. Studies have shown that children who have strong counting skills in preschool often find higher-level math skills easier to grasp. We need to teach children to view the world through a mathematical eye.
Early Childhood Educators need to make sure that math is going on everyday through all the centers. It is through preschooler’s play/work that they explore math concepts and develop their skills. It is our job as Educators to connect the link between a child’s ability to use informal math and the vocabulary that goes along with it. It is the responsibility of adults to teach the vocabulary of mathematics; giving numeracy both meaning and individual value.
As the adult, we should use math words often and everyday so that the words grow to have meaning for the children. Math is a way of thinking, knowing. It requires problem-solving skills and knowledge of mathematical vocabulary. Communication is fundamental to mathematics. One must have the words to communicate their experience. Mathematics must be connected to the real world for it to have meaning. Through the children’s play they can experiment and explore math materials and how they relate to their world.
Math should be in every center and can easily become part of every unit of study. Math activities should be available every day and always available during choice time. Introduce new math skills by using concrete manipulatives that the children can easily handle. Show the children how to use manipulatives during whole group times such as; a bowl of puffballs and several containers. Show how these can be sorted by color or size. By those that have sparkles and those that do not have sparkles. Math needs active participation.
Problem solving is a great way to introduce math concepts and vocabulary. The children use concrete manipilatives to solve math problems (we have 14 children but only 8 cookies, what should we do)? Teach math using manipulatives before you add visual representation. Teach what three looks like, and then introduce three dots or sticks and the written number or symbols. After the children have begun to use vocabulary, we can introduce the symbols that go along (+ – = < >)
Label the day with math vocabulary. It is important for children to be exposed to mathematical vocabulary in its real life situations so that children can practice using it in context to what they are doing or playing. By having math vocabulary as part of their day, children are better able to understand mathematical concepts. For a child to talk mathematically, they must have beginning understand math concepts. We must teach children math vocabulary so that can verbalize their findings and experiences. The more the children hear you use and say mathematical vocabulary, the more they will begin to use it correctly. In fact, during the preschool years it is not necessary for the child to get the correct answer but to be able to explain how he/she got their answer.
What Works Clearinghouse site. https://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/Docs/PracticeGuide/wwc_empg_summary_020714.pdf
Benchmarks for preschooler’s math
Mathematics; The Creative Curriculum Approach, Copley, Jones, and Dighe.