Math is one of the most important elements of our lives. Math helps us understand and organize the world around us. Math is much more than being able to count, add, and subtract – it is an approach to life and a way of thinking about the world.
Some important skills that fall into the category of early childhood mathematical thinking include:
- Observing and understanding how things are related
- Understanding size and shape
- Systems of measurement (height, weight, volume, speed, time, etc.)
- Number sense, one-one correspondence, counting, etc.
- Understanding symbols
- Spatial awareness
- Classifying, ordering, patterning, sequencing, etc.
- Organizing data, charting, graphing, etc.
- Problem solving, reasoning, estimating, predicting, calculating, etc.
- Understanding whole/part – foundation of understanding fractions
Mathematical thinking offers us a way to solve a variety of everyday problems and it is used in virtually every profession imaginable. Math skills have also been found, in studies, to be a better predictor of school success than even early literacy skills.
This does not mean that early childhood educators should begin teaching math skills that are traditionally taught to older children. We don’t need to invest in math workbooks or abandon what we know about child development and developmentally appropriate practices.
We should, however, become more thoughtful and intentional about how we integrate math and promote mathematical thinking in our learning environments. In some cases that might include introducing different activities and in other cases, it might simply mean adjusting the language we use when interacting with children and families.
This month, we will explore a number of ways that early childhood educators can lay the groundwork for strong math skills by helping children develop their mathematical thinking.
For the article Infants and Toddlers, CLICK HERE
For the article Preschoolers, CLICK HERE
For the article Kindergarten and School-agers, CLICK HERE
For the article For Families, CLICK HERE