What Are the Benefits of Mathematical Activities for Preschoolers?
The preschool curriculum incorporates math skills in a variety of ways, from calendar activities to counting blocks. Math activities are often subtly worked into play activities instead of the explicit math instruction you see in elementary-school classrooms. Preschool activities that focus on numbers, addition, patterning and other basic math concepts help build a base for your young child as she prepares for kindergarten 2.
Nurture Natural Interest
Young kids naturally seek out math concepts, such as patterning, counting and comparing amounts, according to the National Association for the Education of Young Children 1. At the preschool level, kids haven't yet encountered tedious math drills or lengthy math assignments. The preschool curriculum encourages the natural interest your child has with math concepts by building on them through interactive lessons. A preschool teacher is able to use what the students already know as a base for classroom math explorations. For example, looking for shapes in the environment builds on the students' understanding of various shapes. Making more complex patterns with colored blocks expands the knowledge of patterning.
Make Math Interesting
The preschool classroom typically allows for more creative and hands-on presentations of the learning materials. An effective preschool teacher is able to make math interesting to her students based on the way she presents it. Instead of using worksheets to teach basic money concepts, she might set up a classroom store in the dramatic play area. Colored blocks in the block center allow students to make up their own patterns. Children's books that incorporate math concepts bridge math and reading to make both subjects more interesting. Cooking activities offer an interactive way to learn about measurements.
Build Basic Math Skills
The preschool curriculum builds a foundation for your child as she enters kindergarten. By incorporating math activities, preschool gives your child the basic math concepts she'll need for elementary school 2. She begins to learn to recognize numbers and count with one-to-one correspondence when counting objects. She may learn to count by 5s or 10s. She begins learning addition concepts. Preschool activities often focus on problem-solving skills that are useful in elementary school math. The preschool years also introduce kids to the language of math. Scholastic suggests working with math vocabulary words during play. When your preschooler talks about how far she can jump, you might say, "We should measure your jump with a ruler. Measuring is a way to see how long something is -- like, your jump."
Early math experiences build a child's confidence regarding her math ability, according to NAEYC. With each math connection, she learns that she is able to use and understand number concepts. She becomes more familiar with the basics of math, allowing her to build on those ideas to learn more complex math ideas. She becomes familiar with problem-solving so she is able to take more risks with future math problems. For example, a preschooler might gain the confidence to try making more complex patterns with shapes once she grasps the concept of a basic pattern.
- National Association for the Education of Young Children: Early Childhood Mathematics: Promoting Good Beginnings
- Scholastic: Math Activities for Preschoolers
- Hart SA, Petrill SA, Willcutt E, et al. Exploring How Symptoms of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Are Related to Reading and Mathematics Performance: General Genes, General Environments. Psychol Sci. 2010;21(11):1708-1715. doi:10.1177/0956797610386617
- Cragg L, Richardson S, Hubber PJ, Keeble S, Gilmore C. When is working memory important for arithmetic? The impact of strategy and age. PLoS One. 2017;12(12):e0188693. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0188693
- Sturm A, Rozenman M, Piacentini JC, McGough JJ, Loo SK, McCracken JT. The Effect of Neurocognitive Function on Math Computation in Pediatric ADHD: Moderating Influences of Anxious Perfectionism and Gender. Child Psychiatry Hum Dev. 2018;49(5):822-832. doi:10.1007/s10578-018-0798-4
- Chris Dendy. Executive function... "What is this anyway?" Updated 2011.
- Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images