Children are exposed to Mathematics all around them, in the games they play, the number of hours till T.V time, the number of days at school and the number of times mom made pasta for dinner that week. They keep a count, add, multiply and divide to the best of their abilities.
Recent research by scientists Melissa Libertus and colleagues from Johns Hopkins University, published in the Journal Developmental Science has shown that math ability in preschool children is linked to their natural ability to sense numbers, also called approximate number system. This study aids many child care centres in Singapore to understand the significance of channelizing this ‘approximate number system’ in preschoolers into good mathematical ability from an early stage, which could potentially help them in grasping advanced mathematical concepts later in life.
Encouraging and harnessing this number system in a Singapore preschool will aid in young children absorbing ideas and methods a lot faster than older kids. The idea of using math in their daily life will be interwoven into their development and will play a key role in nurturing them in mathematical applications.
Here are three simple ways to instill math skills in preschoolers
1: Give them what they love- This is popular among preschoolers, dinosaurs are a great way to get them interested in math concepts. Give them boxes of different shapes, like triangle, rectangle and square, ask them to put it together to look like a dinosaur. Make it harder by specifying the number of boxes they can use. They will grow to love it and at the end of it, you can put the dinosaurs together for a dino-show.
2. Measure it their way- The use of space and quantifying that space will teach preschoolers the important lesson about measurement. Instead of teaching them the concept of height, allow them to build ‘buildings’ with their building blocks. Give them tape and show them how they can measure whose building is the biggest. This will create a sense of eagerness and encourage active participation.
3. Use props- Subtle encouragement in the form of props aid in reinforcing the concept of math, more importantly in piquing their interest. Just like the many sit down diners we pass through in Clark Quay, in children should be exposed to a range of mathematical props like a recipe with measurements for a simple snack, dice, calendars, clocks or even sheaves of different textured paper.
Math is not just about rote learning concepts but about weaving the concept into everyday life, making it easy for children to use numbers and giving preschoolers an effective head start in life.