What comes to your mind when you hear the word “math”? Most will probably associate it with sequences of numbers, formulas and trigonometric symbols, or things related to calculating money that seem very difficult to do except for people who are good at math. Mathematics is not just limited to numbers, calculations, or the terms sine, cosine, tangent. In fact, mathematics has a wider scope than what we generally perceived. Likewise for children, it is not just counting, subtracting, dividing, or multiplying numbers.
According to the National Association for Education of Young Children located in Washington, United States, in the early stages of life, children have studied and paid attention to the world around them by comparing numbers and sizes, finding patterns, or adjusting balance when they play with blocks. When they climb and descend the slide, they observe altitude, direction, and speed. What they do is actually an exploration of mathematical concepts. We may often hear them say, “Brother wants a bigger one,” “Little sister can jump further.” The words big, far, and more, are actually mathematical expressions. It is our job as adults to continue providing the right vocabulary most appropriate to the children’s activities
By understanding the basic concepts of mathematics, there are many benefits that children can get to support their growth and development, even very helpful for pre-school children who are about to enter Elementary school. If children are familiar with mathematical dimensions such as measurement, classification, comparison, and predictions in everyday life, it will be easier for children to hone their ability to think creatively, logically, and critically. This will be needed throughout your children’s lives in adapting to new environments, innovate, have great curiosity, and think critically and broadly in solving problems. This is how mathematics gives provision for children to master various life skills.
You don’t want to miss the opportunity to introduce maths to your little ones from an early age. It would be amazing if you can introduce math to your child in an enjoyable way. During the Golden Age (0-6 years old), the way parents educate their children will greatly influence the behavior and choices of children in the future. If adults introduce math to children in a complicated and mundane way, of course the child will not be interested. Then how should you introduce mathematics to early childhood?
Here are 6 fun ways you can use when developing math skills for your children:
1. Grouping Objects and Shapes
Introducing math to toddlers (1.5 – 2.5 years old) can be done by grouping objects according to colors. Use balls or various toys in the house that have basic colors. If your child is compatible with the kinesthetic learning style, you may place objects in different places so that your child’s movement needs are met. As your child advances, you can invite your little one to group objects of the same shape, such as legos, wooden blocks or even found materials, such as leaves and stones.
2. Play with Blocks
Another fun way to learn math is to use three-dimensional objects like blocks and puzzle knobs. Children will learn about various shapes and thus get introduced to the concepts of space and shape (spatial reasoning), such as measurements and estimates when installing or arranging blocks. When your little one turns 2 years old and over, they will begin to compile the blocks to create a new dimensional shape that they usually imagine as a form of trains, houses, and others.
3. Recognizing Numbers by Singing
Honing children’s math skills through songs is also quite effective. Cheerful songs can increase children’s enthusiasm and interest. You can introduce the numbers 1-10 with a song, such as “Children’s Song 1 2 3 4”, “Ten Little Indians”, or “Five Little Ducks. As you sing the song, you can use your fingers to represent the numbers and the movements. For example, when singing Five Little Ducks, use your fingers to represent the amount of ducks, followed by another gesture to illustrate the hill, mimic the way ducks waddle along with the quacking sound. When your little one refuses to choose any other song, it’s in your best interest not to force them to change. Instead, you may ask them to pick other numbers or simply change the animal in the song that suits your child’s interest. Don’t forget to adjust the movements and the sound the animals make in the song. When the child is over 3 years old, you can continue to introduce counting with the song “Baa, baa, black sheep” and other songs that introduce the concept of addition and subtractions; or “Twinkle, twinkle, little star” to introduce the spatial concept.
4. Playing with Patterns
Activities with patterns can hone children’s skills in solving problems and the ability to think abstractly as well as rationally. You may use legos, wooden blocks and toy cars, to introduce your little one to patterns. Show a simple pattern of red-blue-red-blue-red-blue and ask your child what color should come next after blue. Encourage them to follow your example and to create their own patterns using the materials or toys that they like. They can also arrange patterns based on texture (soft-coarse), taste (sweet-sour), or even movement (run-jump).
5. Take advantage of everyday activities
Introducing math to children can also be done through everyday activities with parents that fits with the child’s interest. Even without any special materials or equipment, you may familiarize your little one with mathematics in a simple and fun way. As you go up and down the stairs, you can count the steps out loud and ask how many steps did your child take? You can make playdough by measuring flour with plastic cups or spoons. Or even simply discussing with your little one how big they should make the garage to fit all of their toy cars.
6. Choosing the Right School
There are several important aspects that must be considered when choosing a school, such as curriculum, facilities, companions, to the atmosphere of the school. So, what is a school like that supports teaching mathematics to children in a fun and enjoyable way? The Early Childhood program of HighScope Indonesia school is here to support parents in supporting their little one’s math skills so that they are honed properly and optimally. Why is that?
First, teaching mathematics with a curriculum that is enjoyable and accommodates children’s interests. Such as Selling Day, group activities to make patterns, and others that are familiar with children’s daily lives. Sekolah HighScope Indonesia also holds Math Tech Week every year, the event consists of simulations of teaching mathematics by the teachers for the parents; starting from the Early Childhood program to high school level, which discusses how to teach mathematics with everyday items.
Second, HighScope Indonesia places teachers as partners in play, so that children will feel comfortable interacting with their teachers. Through this interaction, children will learn in an open, two-way, and natural method, because learning will feel like playing and without any pressure. In addition, with the teacher as the child’s partner it will also make it easier to understand the children’s interests. With that, the teacher is able to determine what type of learning style is right for teaching mathematics to each child, who have different abilities and needs. Sekolah HighScope Indonesia also held an online Babysitter Workshop, to provide direction for caregivers to support children in learning mathematics from an early age.
Third, which is no less important, HighScope Indonesia offers a supportive environment with complete facilities and materials and a real-life (concrete) application that will make it easier for your little one to understand mathematical concepts and hone their ability to think critically, logically, and creatively. A part of Math Tech Week is guest speakers session, who are invited to share how they use mathematics in their respective jobs, such as Barista and Chef at the Early Childhood level.
Introducing math to our children might seem challenging, hopefully with these steps your little one will experience that learning math is actually a lot of fun. With HighScope Indonesia as your partner in child development, your little one will be introduced to mathematics at their golden age with the appropriate and optimal stimulation!