Preschoolers learn basic math skills through a variety of ways. You can help increase those math skills with a variety of teaching methods. Use these tips for making preschool math instruction more effective.
Start With the Basics
Preschoolers come from a variety of backgrounds, experiences and ability levels. Don’t assume that all of the kids know the numbers from 1 to 10 or all of the shapes. Start with the basics and build up from there. You give all of the kids a chance to be successful when you start from the beginning.
You can also individualize instruction to meet the needs of individual students. You might give a child who is strong at patterning a more advanced pattern to create with blocks, for example. Or you might work more closely with a child who hasn’t quite got the idea of patterning.
Make It Real
Math often gets the reputation of being a series of boring worksheets. Break the mold by making math real for the kids. Relate math to their real lives. You might look for shapes in the environment, for example. Or use play money in a store in the dramatic play area to simulate a real-world shopping experience. Or work in measurement in the context of cooking. Help the kids see how the math concepts work in the real world.
Interactive math activities are often the most effective for young children. Get lots of manipulatives for the classroom, such as counter blocks or shape tiles, that the kids can use to explore math concepts. Focus on having the kids interact with materials any time they are learning math ideas.
Integrate Math Concepts
Preschool math shouldn’t be confined to one math period during the day. Incorporate math concepts throughout the preschool schedule. Here are some ideas:
- During circle time, include calendar activities. You can incorporate patterning by putting a shape on each day of the calendar or alternating the color you use to write the number of the day on the calendar.
- Count the school days by adding a straw to a cup each day.
- During snack time, count how many snacks you have. Or count how many kids are there that day to have snack.
- Let the kids cook occasionally for snack time to introduce some measuring concepts.
- Read picture books that include math concepts during story time.
- Use shapes in art projects to reinforce geometry concepts.
- Put math manipulatives and tools in learning centers so kids can play with them during center time.
Look for opportunities to weave in math concepts throughout the curriculum to reinforce the concepts.