GREENSBORO, N.C. — Becoming good at math begins long before a child enters school. Even infants are wired to learn simple math ideas, including small numbers, patterns and making comparisons. You don’t need to be a math teacher to start preparing your child to be a problem solver. There are fun and simple activities that you can do now to build math and thinking skills, according to Guilford Basics.
Tips for newborns to 12 months
Play Music We all have a natural love of music. Share this love with your child. Play gentle music or sing when you are together. This is a fun and easy way to expose your child to rhythm and patterns. Lots of nursery rhymes and children’s songs involve counting.
Move in Rhythm Clap, tap, rock or kiss your baby in a steady rhythm. Count while you do it. For example, while dressing your infant, tap their tummy three times. Repeat this. Have fun and make silly faces. This is a good way to teach your infant about counting.
Count Objects Count groups of things, starting with small numbers. For example, count your child’s toes or pieces of fruit. Infants learn through all of their senses, so hold objects up for your child to see and touch. “Look, there’s one…two bananas. Two bananas.”
Compare Provide opportunities for your child to touch and explore things that are the same and different. For example, let your baby shake things that make different sounds, or touch fabrics with different textures. Talk about how they are similar or different.
Use Math Words When you talk to your infant, use words related to math ideas like quantities and comparisons. For example, words like “more, less, big, small, tall, short, round, square.” You don’t need to set aside special time to do this. You can use math words whenever you are with your child.
Tips for toddlers 12 to 36 months
Count Count with your toddler. Move to bigger numbers as they get the hang of it. Young children learn through all of their senses, so have them point to and touch the objects you count.
Add and Subtract Explore what happens when you add or take away items from a group. “You have three crackers. How many will you have if you eat one?”
Name Shapes Look for shapes around you. “The clock is a circle. Do you see any other circles?” This could be a fun game when you are out doing errands.
Match and Sort Make a game of matching and sorting objects into groups. Your child can match and sort items by their shape, color, size or other features.
Compare Sizes, Amounts and Weights For example, describe things as “large, small, light, heavy.” Ask your child which objects are larger or smaller.
Put Things in Order Practice putting things in order. For example, your child could arrange dolls from smallest to largest, youngest to oldest, or heaviest to lightest. See what other categories they come up with!
Make Math Part of Your Life Math plays a part in life even when we don’t realize it. For example, to prepare dinner, you measure ingredients, set the oven timer and count plates. Find ways to let your child help.
Use Music Clap and dance with your child. Your child will be learning about patterns while having fun.