Using the Language of Math
One of the recommendations from NAEYC and the National Council for Teachers of Mathematics is:
- Enhance children’s natural interest in mathematics and their disposition to use it to make sense of their physical and social worlds.
One way to encourage natural interest is to use mathematical talk as you engage with children. Mathematical talk is using math-related language to make observations and discuss everyday events and materials. Conversations about numbers and mathematics help to build and extend children’s mathematical learning.
ECE professionals should:
- Discuss attributes of objects regularly such as quantity, size, and shapes when interacting with children. Note: discuss means more than simply telling children to recite or label shapes; use open-ended questions to compare and contrast different shapes.
- Use math language casually throughout the day.
- Encourage children to use math language during play.
- Talk to children about their mathematical reasoning using open-ended questions.
Below are examples of mathematical talk that can be used throughout the day:
- “You have two ears just like the teddy bear. Let’s count—one, two.”
- “I have more goldfish than you do. See, I have one, two, three, and you have one, two.”
- “How long do you want your yarn to be?”
- “Who do you think can run the fastest?”
- “Can you help me find the cup that is the same as this one?”
- “I notice that you made two different shapes with your playdough. Tell me about them.”
- “What pattern do you see on the wall?”
- “How did you figure out that this container holds more water?”
- “How many children are in the block center? Let’s count: one, two, three.”
- “Would you like to sit at the round table or the rectangle table?”
- “Ms. Jenna is taller than me. She can reach the highest shelf in the closet.”
- “What is the first thing we do when we are finished with our snack?”
- “Tell me why you grouped these items together?”
- “Maybe Rosie can help you find the right size block. Can you describe what it looks like to her?”
For the next few days, pay attention to the conversations that you have with children. Look for opportunities to add the language of math into those conversations.
For the main article Math in the Early Years, CLICK HERE
For the article NAEYC’s Recommendations for High-Quality Math Learning, CLICK HERE
For the article Pre-math Skills in Early Childhood, CLICK HERE
For the article Math Across the Curriculum, CLICK HERE