Learning Math Is A Natural Part of Life.
So many of life's daily activities involve the use of math facts.


When we think of Kindergarten and Math skills, is counting forward the only way of counting considered?

Do you think of counting backward?

For those kindergarteners who have a strong sense of number, do you think about skip counting?

The goal in early learning math programs is to develop basic understanding of the patterns of arithmetic
                     ...using everyday objects in your child's environment.

Real materials involve your child's senses. Math symbols are not the concept.

Math symbols stand for the objects in the same way that a figure of a man or a woman on a door stands for male and female washrooms.

Math symbols describe something the child cannot see.

Real objects can be seen...

can be felt...

and, can be heard.

They can be experienced physically and visually.

Objects familiar to the child build a bridge to the abstract world of math symbols. Materials that are real involve your child's senses.

Familiar objects encourage learning....

They become tools for exploration....

They stimulate problem-solving.

For some kids, math is not easy. They have difficulty understanding the logic behind math operations...and even more to calculate these mentally. It is important to create a gentle and positive environment where children can practice their number skills.

Practice makes a difference. This is especially so in calculating basic number facts.

Your child is best served if the math symbols associated with the concept are used

... after your child understands the concepts.

That understanding comes through exploration of keys set up in a pattern, two groups of buttons, or the pattern in a necklace or bracelet with alternating colors or bead sizes.

Keep the work oral.

Accept what the child sees. You may be surprised.

Don't rush in to have your child see what you see.

Make the concepts meaningful.

Numerical symbols aren't real to the child. You are working toward mathematical understanding.

Far too often, we see the concepts and symbols as simple. That dupes us into forging ahead when the child is not ready.

Numeracy in many kindergarten children doesn't progress in a straight line fashion. What they see and how they see it takes them into areas we might view as play. That can be frustrating when we want to get on with the teaching.

Exploration means your child is free to respond to new material in any manner...in YOUR child's own way...without input from you.

For example, you spill the contents of a bag of buttons (people still have those, don't they?) onto a table. Your child may see them as objects...

to admire

to count

to sort

to compare

or to use to make designs.

Math readiness requires that you place no subjective value on how your child interacts with the buttons.

If you hold off for a while, you may discover your child's thinking and number sense. So...hold back from telling your child how to see those buttons. If you don't hold back, you will place a value judgment on your child's exploration.

Above all, don't suggest to your child how to explore.

Simply observe. You might ask your child to explain what she did and why. These are the insights you need to guide you in your work with your child.

When your child loses interest in free exploration, extend it.

Your child may enjoy making permanent records of his explorations. Ask your child to copy the patterns. Let your child represent the record in whatever style she selects.

Sorting and classifying is an activity critical to numeracy. Children learn to think analytically in this activity. They learn to see features that are alike. If they discover it, they are more apt to remember it and to apply the same thinking pattern in other endeavors or activities.

For instance, your child may ignore...




ornamentation, and



to select buttons with 2 holes or buttons with 4 holes. Each of these is undoubtedly a sub-group of all the buttons in the bag.

A bag of buttons is a powerful, material source to explore in a variety of ways...not only mathematically, but in developing the language to go with it.

Sorting and classifying helps your child organize objects according to their properties, or attributes.

Sorting and classifying activities develop logical thinking. It sets the stage for kindergarten math readiness.

Your child's language skills will increase as she notices and describes small details in the material she is sorting and classifying. Your child will grow in clear, logical thinking.

Logical thinking is the language of mathematics. Growth in math reasoning develops as a result of seeing common characteristics...the specific properties which objects have in common.

So many students in remedial classes have poorly developed abilities in the area of sorting and classifying. They have been thrust too soon into the symbols used in arithmetic function...without basic understanding.

Their knowledge is nothing more that a series of bits of isolated information...
             at a superficial level...
                      resulting in information overload.

Over time, your child may suddenly see that some items could go in either of two categories and invent overlapping circles. He may use string to contain the sort and to show the sub-group.

Each of these activities provides an opportunity to touch and count the items in the patterns or designs that arise from the activity. The counting practice will help your child see the mathematical relationship between the items and the names of numbers used to count. Later he can learn the written forms assigned to the names.

Many children need to be helped to see how easy working with numbers can be. Many of those same children fall into the difficulty trap simply because they have not had enough practice with real objects that surround them.

Others fall into the trap because they have overheard Mom and Aunt Bessie talk about the family members who have had difficulty in math.

By and large, difficulty in math skills is not genetic.
Kindergarten math skills involve so much more than only knowing how to count to 20!
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