# Flexibility:  Approaches to Teaching Early Math Skills to Preschoolers

Firstly, a short definition of early numeracy:

• Early numeracy refers to the foundational mathematical skills and concepts that children develop during their early years, typically before formal schooling. It encompasses a range of abilities, including understanding numbers, counting, recognizing quantities, comparing sizes, shapes, and patterns, and basic problem-solving skills.
• Early numeracy skills provide the building blocks for later mathematical understanding and proficiency. These skills lay the foundation for future mathematical understanding and success.

There are many methods that can be employed to teach pre-math and math skills to early years kids.  Some examples are found below.  And many of these are incorporated into Liberty’s preschool curriculum as each child learns in a different way.  Thus, by incorporating various methods once can tailor an approach to a particular learning style.

Here are some curriculum-integrated approaches to teaching early math skills to preschool-age kids:

1. Concrete experiences: Provide hands-on activities and experiences that allow children to physically interact with mathematical concepts. For example, they can use manipulatives like blocks or counting objects to understand concepts of quantity, counting, and basic operations.

2. Concrete-pictorial-abstract approach: Follow the concrete-pictorial-abstract approach, which involves three stages of learning. In the concrete stage, children use physical objects to understand concepts. In the pictorial stage, they move to representing concepts with pictures or drawings. Finally, in the abstract stage, they can work with numbers and symbols without physical objects or pictures.

3. Play-based learning: Incorporate math into play activities. Children can learn mathematical concepts through games, puzzles, and everyday experiences. For instance, they can play with shapes, build puzzles, use manipulatives like blocks or counters, and engage in problem-solving activities.

4. Hands-on activities: Engage children in hands-on activities that promote mathematical thinking and problem-solving. This can include measuring objects using non-standard units, exploring shapes and patterns, sorting and classifying objects, and exploring spatial relationships.

5. Math vocabulary: Introduce mathematical vocabulary and concepts during daily interactions and play. Use mathematical terms like more, less, bigger, smaller, longer, shorter, and so on. Encourage children to use these terms when describing and comparing objects or quantities.

6. Number recognition and counting: Introduce numbers and counting gradually. Start with rote counting, where children learn to recite numbers in order. Then, move on to counting objects and recognizing numerals. Use various materials like number tiles, toys, or pictures to make counting activities engaging and meaningful.

7. Mathematical language and songs: Teach counting songs and rhymes that help children understand numerical concepts, patterns, and sequencing. These songs can reinforce counting skills and introduce mathematical vocabulary.

8. Real-life applications: Connect math to real-life situations and experiences. Involve children in cooking, baking, measuring ingredients, or counting everyday objects. Discuss concepts like time, money, shapes, and measurements in context.

9. Positive and supportive environment: Create a positive and supportive environment where children feel encouraged to explore and engage with math. Offer praise and encouragement for their efforts and allow them to make mistakes as they learn.

Remember that each child develops at their own pace, so provide opportunities for individualized learning and ensure that the activities are age-appropriate and enjoyable for preschoolers.