November 13, 2019
Yen Thieu

From my work at EDC, I know that it’s important for my young children to be exposed to mathematical concepts at an early age. A longitudinal research study by Dr. Greg Duncan at the University of California-Irvine and colleagues (2007) reported that early math skills were the strongest predictor of children’s later school success, followed by reading skills.

Every day, I look for ways to weave the concepts that underlie mathematical thinking into simple activities. You can do this, too! For example:

1. At the store, ask your child to help you count items you need to buy. Don’t forget to have them say the total number after counting! This helps your child practice knowing how many there are in “all,” an important concept called cardinality.

2. On a walk, play an “I-spy” game. As you point out shapes to help your child learn about the names and characteristics of objects, ask your child questions, such as “How many sides does it have?” and “Is it curved or does it have straight edges?” These questions help children think about and notice the attributes of shapes.

3. While folding laundry, have your little helpers sort out categories of clothing items. Ask them, “Can you find all the socks?” “Can you sort the socks into two groups—big socks and little socks?” Then you can turn the task into a matching game. “Can you match the ones that are the same? How do you know they are the same?” You can also help your child compare during this time, “Let’s compare! Look: Mommy’s shirt is bigger than your shirt! Your shirt is smaller.”

Once you get started, you will see that family math opportunities are everywhere, and they are easy and fun to do. We can offer some help. Our EDC team has designed a set of fun and engaging mathematics games that foster preschoolers’ understanding of beginning geometry, number sense and operations, and patterning along with printable mini books. We also provide other resources meant for busy working parents, including daily tips. All of these are available on EDC’s Young Mathematicians website as well as our Facebook and Twitter accounts. Get in touch if you have any questions or suggestions!

Yen Thieu is a research associate in early childhood. Her work focuses on teacher quality and children's learning in early literacy, reading, math, and science. Her experience spans from research to data management to classroom teaching.

Early Childhood Development and Learning

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