I want to thank Kelli Stewart for another great post. Being a kindergarten teacher, this one really strikes a chord with me. When parents ask me how best to prepare their kids for school my first answer is talk to them. Give your children plenty of time to play with real toys (not devices), use their imagination, explore and problem solve through everyday experiences and their own play. Take time to talk about their discoveries and the world around them. Don’t solve their problems for them. Let them figure out the challenges they face during play (eg Why won’t this tower stand-up?). Language skills are the foundation of learning and being comfortable with language concepts is the first step in developing literacy and numeracy skills. Finally, never speak “ill” of math. So many parents will say things like “I wasn’t good at math either. He/she is just like me.” Please don’t plant the seed of doubt or fear of math in your child before they ever start. Math is actually based on patterns and relationships between numbers. It is a system that really makes sense when you get it, but can feel like learning a foreign language when you don’t. Set your child up for success by speaking positively and making math a part of their world. Great work, Kelli!
What a fun and easy way to help your kid learn math? I suggest getting the help of a bucket full of leaping amphibians.
Froghoppers from VikingToys is a fun game where you press the back of a frog to make it jump into a bucket. It is a lot of fun for the whole family for under ten bucks. I love it for that alone, but I have to say, that it has made teaching math words way more exciting!
Left Out of the Conversation
When my son was in preschool, we went to our first parent teacher interview. When we asked if there was anything we should be working on with him, she said that he could improve in his math skills. Aside from practicing counting, she said that one way we could help him advance was to be really mindful of using conversational math to describe the world around him.
“I’m sure you do this already… You know, counting stairs, dividing objects into equal groups, talking about adding or subtracting two more fruit in your basket as you’re shopping, that sort of thing. Even playing dice games.” she said confidently. That was the moment I realized I do not describe my world in mathematical terms EVER. Nathan and I would climb stairs to the beat of a song. We split things so they were fair. Fruit quantities were described more like this: a banana, a couple of bananas, a bunch of bananas. And could we play a math game? Sorry, no dice. To be honest, we had more Megatheriums come up more in conversation than Math.
With Emily, I knew I had to make a conscious effort from the beginning to talk math. Knowing myself, I knew that wasn’t going to happen naturally. That’s when the frogs came in.
Our favourite frog game
With the help of dice (we steal the dice from another great math game: Double Shudder!), we roll a couple times to find out how many frogs to add to the frog family (adding) and then roll again to see how many are leaving (subtracting). Smiles and subtraction seem to go hand in hand. As we “Minus one, two three…”, the frogs go flying! I’m not too worried about Emily actually learning her addition and subtraction, but it is a great way to introduce the words “plus” and “minus” while having some fun.
We even cut out lily pads and divide the frogs into equal groups. Emily is super social, so she is very content to put the frogs into groups (her ideal). The frogs are also great for counting, making patterns, sorting into colour groups, and are exceptionally good for launching across the living room!
Who would think that a frog would be such a good teacher?