Spring is in the air and while many are on spring break, heading to a spring training game or spring cleaning, as a math specialist who works with kids of all ages, I can’t help but think of spring as a fun time to reinforce math concepts, especially for the younger set. Recently, I’ve spent a lot of time working one-on-one with children in Pre-K and kindergarten to work on their individual math plans, tailored to their needs. These young learners enjoy calendar time, temperature, time and date — and of course, exploring of the hands-on and “eye spy” variety.
From my time in the classroom, I’d like to share my top four tips with moms of young children on ways to develop a love — and understanding — of math in the early years. Ready to spring into math?
1. Find lots of opportunities to count. Count your steps, the number of cars you pass on your spring break road trip, items you buy at the store. Read the calendar together; count the days until a special event — the first day of spring. Practice counting by 2s or 3s. Have your child give every person in the family an equal number of an item, such as cookies — or carrots.
2. Help them recognize the geometric world around them through shapes and sizes. When running errands, ask them to find triangles, circles, rectangles and squares. Have them sort the groceries by shape or by size. Beyond cereal boxes, and traffic signs your child is sure to find plenty of colorful geometric shapes and patterns on their clothing this spring.
3. Help them collect and organize information. Send them to find items around the house that are in pairs or look for groups of three or four. Take measurements of items around the home — don’t forget the growth chart. Collect items from nature or the nursery. What are you planting this year? From tulips and lilies, to geraniums and pansies, look for symmetry or sort by color, size and type.
4. Develop reasoning skills. Create patterns through clapping or color patterns (again, those spring flowers). Ask them to predict what comes next. Ask them to be the weather person for the day: What temperature will it be tomorrow? Sunny or cloudy? Windy? Any chance of rain?
As educators, we often turn to the seasons for creative and relevant ways to drive home concepts in math, reading, science and more. I hope you’ll find these helpful in your home this spring and they spark other engaging opportunities to learn with your little ones.
• Melissa Cesarano is a math specialist at St. John Bosco Catholic School in Ahwatukee. She has designed the SMART MATH program across grade levels pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade. SMART MATH utilizes a computer adaptive assessment test to determine students’ individual needs and draws from four math curriculums to customize personal math plans. For more information, visit www.sjbosco.org.