Below is the monthly message from KY Governor’s Office of Early Childhood:
The Building Blocks of Math
For children, learning math isn’t just about learning numbers. Shapes, music and words develop early math skills too. Sorting a basket of fruit into two groups of apples and oranges is a skill that prepares children for learning math later in life.
A child’s math ability in the preschool years through 5th grade is shaped by parent-child interactions. Talking to your child using numbers helps show that they are important. Children learn math can be used for many purposes from baking to shopping. There are lots of opportunities for you to speak in “number talk” with your child. Number talk can happen when counting out loud to 10 at the start of a game of hide and seek. For your preschooler, talking about sets of four or more items is better than smaller sets of one to three items. For example, instead of counting the number of strawberries on a plate one by one, you can say “There are eight strawberries on your plate.” Some skills that are helpful for your child to know before kindergarten are counting up to 30, sorting objects and counting sets of objects up to 10.
Teaching math shouldn’t feel like a quiz. For children, learning and fun go together. Music and movement activities are a natural way to introduce math to young children by teaching patterns. The classic nursery rhyme song “Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed” has a repetitive beat and the number of monkeys decreases every verse. It’s also fun for kids to jump along to. Shapes are another fun way to build math skills. Children usually sort objects into groups by color and shape. They learn to notice if things are the same or different. This skill of comparison is important for math later on. Try putting a handful of change on the table. Ask your child to sort them into groups. Help him or her put all the dimes together, pennies together or nickels together. It is not important for your child to know the coin name or value.
Did you know children have math milestones? As they grow, they learn ideas that become the building blocks of math. The milestones below are some common skills children develop at each stage. Every child develops at different speeds and ages. Use this as a guide to help build your child’s skills.
Ages 1 to 2
• Understand the idea
of “more” and enough.”
• Understand the words “one”
and “two” and can follow simple
directions like “take one.”
• Say number words in order but may mix
up higher numbers.
• Can match same-size shapes with each
• Stack three or more blocks together.
• Play with simple picture puzzle pieces.
• Explore quantity by filling
and spilling containers with
sand and water.
• Three year
olds can tell you their
age and hold up fingers
to show the number.
• Can compare two different objects
side by side.
• Can describe the steps in a simple
routine like taking a bath( fill tub
with water first, add bubbles, etc.).
• Recognize and name
shapes with different sizes.
• Can draw shapes from memory after
looking at it for several seconds.
• During second half of fourth year, some
children can name the days of the week,
months and seasons.
• By the end of the fourth year, some children
can measure an object by using other
smaller objects (measure the length of a
book using paper clips lined up end to
• Can count up to five items, some
can count to 10 and a few
can count to 20.
• Can use
correctly in a sentence ( up,
down, front, back, under, behind,
• Look at different-sized containers of the same
shape and tell which holds more or less.
• Can sort a group of items by one or more
characteristics (sorting socks in the laundry).
• With help from an adult, they can understand
simple graphs and use the information to
answer a question (if looking at a bar graph
of common family pets, they can figure out
which one was the most popular pet).
• Given two numbers between one and
10, many can tell you
Visit kyfamilymath.org for game and activity ideas for your preschooler