Join me every week as I show you how me and my 4-year-old Certain Little Someone do . No curriculum, no pressure, but lots of learning!
I’m just gonna be honest and come right out with it: Math and I do not get along. We’ve kind of formed a truce over the past few years, but only as long as not too much of me is required in this relationship.
The basic stuff I can handle: counting, addition, subtraction, division and even long division on a good day. Anything beyond that, though, is really stretching it. Oh, wait, that’s not true! I am quite adept at figuring out percentages and decimals because those are required for bargain shopping. But anything beyond that is definitely a stretch.
Thank goodness for Saxon math! It was a lifesaver for me in my Kindergarten-teaching years (I actually learned a few things from the Saxon I material. Yes, yes, I did!), and I have every intention of using it when my Certain Little Someone is old enough. I know for sure I simply cannot teach math in any sort of reputable fashion without some serious guidance; the very thought makes me feel all at sea!
Which is why we’re being very relaxed about the whole thing in pre-school. I am not using a curriculum of any sort, and I’m not too terribly concerned about how much we do and do not learn. (“We” being the royal “we” this time. I’m actually pretty good at pre-school math now.) I think it’s too early to start a serious for-real math curriculum, personally. There’s time enough for that later on!
In fact, my goals for pre-school math are pretty basic. Here’s what I’m hoping we accomplish before he enters Kindergarten:
Counting to 100 (although I’m totally cool with counting to less than that. So far we’re pretty good up to 30, then it gets a little hairy.)
Understanding More or Less using manipulatives and objects (bonus if he grasps more and less with just abstract numbers, i.e. 7 is less than
Counting Backwards 10-1
Basic Concept of Addition (probably not going to start memorizing the facts until K5)
Shapes (good to go on this one)
Size (pretty good with this, too)
Patterns (getting very good at this now)
Basic Concept of Subtraction
Recognizing Number Words
Calendar/Days of the Week/Months of the Year
Basic Concept of Time
Identification of Coins and their Value
Since math can be a very abstract concept for little guys, it really helps to use objects they can handle and touch and count when learning various aspects of math. You don’t even have to buy any fancy sets of linking cubes or geometric shapes or what-have-you. Look around your house, and chances are, you have some awesome manipulatives just sitting around waiting to be used:
Legos (or Duplos) – I use mine over and over and over again. One thing I learned from Saxon math is to build towers with the Legos: Keep them all the same size and build them only as high as ten blocks. Once you get to 10, start with a new tower. This teaches counting and place value all at the same time. These towers can also be used to learn addition and subtraction. Plus, since the Legos come in different colors, you can do sorting and grouping activities as well.
Beans – The larger and more sturdy the bean, the better, but any will do.
Raisins – Practice subtraction! “If you eat one, how many are left?”
You get the picture. Any kind of object that comes with multiples (hey, how’s that for a good math word?!) is fair game for use as a manipulative.
Don’t forget that math plays a large part in everyday life, and all you have to do is draw a little attention to it. Here are a few examples:
Cook together in the kitchen and learn about measurements and time.
Time different activities, like cleaning up. Look at the clock and point out what time it is now, then say “At such-and-such a time, we will do XYZ. Let me know when the clock says such-and-such.” (Insert real times where you see such-and-such. Please.)
Give your child opportunities to pay (with real cash, not cards!) at grocery stores and the like. Also, make sure your child has a piggy bank, and when you find spare change around the house, help him or her identify what kind of coin it is and how much its worth, then place it in the piggy bank.
Make your child do simple but fun mathematical activities. For example: ask your child to help set the table, and give him 3 napkins. Say, “How many napkins do you have? How many people need a napkin? Four? OK, how many more napkins do we need to get?”
Counting practice can be done pretty much anywhere and everywhere with anything.
There are lots and lots of printable worksheets available online for math practice. I guarantee you will not run out of them! My favorites are all on my School Ideas Pinterest board.
100-Number Chart (I like the ones that begin with “0″ because it just makes more sense. All the numbers in the same “family” are in the same row; i.e. all numbers beginning with “1″ are in the same row.)
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