When you were a child, was math your most favorite or least liked subject in school? Is it the same for your child? While some children may seem to have a strong dislike for certain subjects, sometimes it is the way it is taught which influences their like or dislike of a subject, not its subject matter. And as mathematics transitions into an abstract concept, it can sometimes be a much harder subject for young children to grasp.
However, certain teaching techniques and grounding in ordinary experiences can help open a child’s mind to the mathematical experiences she/he encounters everyday and make it a learning opportunity to appreciate how math is used and helpful in enriching our lives.
Uncovering learning opportunities
To help a child master basic numeracy skills such as identifying numbers, counting, and performing basic mathematical calculations such as addition and subtraction, primary educators such as parents and early learning childhood educators can repeatedly ask questions that use basic mathematical concepts such as counting, comparing, and measuring.
How many cupcakes do you see?
How many classmates do you have?
Who is taller between or among your friends?
Which is the bigger box?
How many cups of flour does one need for a pancake?
Who got the most number of Easter eggs?
How many colours of Easter eggs are in your basket?
These questions help make mathematics and mathematical experiences more concrete and easier to grasp for young children. By using their observation and numeracy skills, they put into practice what they know and connect abstract concepts to real-life examples and situations.
Most especially, learning mathematics now becomes an adventurous and exploratory activity instead of being confined to a seat facing a board of numbers which is incompatible with a young mind’s penchant for exploring and wondering instead of concentrating.
Parents and educators alike must be quick enough to identify when these learning opportunities arise. Some examples of these activities include:
1. Grocery shopping
From making lists of what is needed to indicating a quantity and adding up prices, young children can help in accomplishing these tasks. While budgeting may be for older children, young ones can easily identify how many cartons of milk or number of fruits is needed for the grocery run.
Food is a great interactive way to discuss mathematical concepts such as division, addition, and subtraction. For example, asking a child to share his snacks can easily demonstrate subtraction in terms of how many items are left for him and how many he’s giving to a friend. Sharing cookies is another way to show how division works while encouraging children to share fairly among themselves.
Young children can also learn mathematical concepts not only during eating but cooking as well. From measuring out ingredients in terms of cups, spoons, or drops help them learn how to count and measure.