In an earlier blog post, I talked about teaching preschool math and gave information on the 13 math process skills preschoolers develop throughout their preschool years.
Math is something we use and see every day in the classroom. Children are passing out cups of tea in dramatic play (using 1-1 correspondence to be sure each person has on cup). They are building ramps in the block area (using classifying and counting skills as they build). As a preschool teacher, you have the opportunity to observe their play and, therefore, know where each of your children’s knowledge is regarding the 13 math process skills.
Once you know where each child’s knowledge is, it can help you to provide materials and activities to introduce them to other areas of math. How do you do this?
The most basic and simplest way works best! Create a chart! List of the children’s names in a column and list the math process skills across the top row. As you observe your children in play, check off the areas you see them using in everyday interactions. Once you’ve done this for all children (and you will be able to do this throughout one week if your children attend 5 days a week or in two weeks if your children attend 2-3 days a week), review your list.
Are there areas that all your children have mastered? Are there areas that none of your children use?
For example, all your children may be able to rationally count up to 5 items. You notice that once the number of items exceed 5 items, they are not counting rationally but are rote counting. (This would be when they count, for example, 8 blocks. They touch one block and say one number as they count the first 5 blocks.
Once they get to the 6th block, however, you notice them saying two numbers as they touch it. When they touch the 6th block they might say “6,7”. When they touch the 7th block, they say “8,9”. When they touch the 8th block they say “10,12”. What does this tell you?
It tells you that they can rote count to 10 (notice they skipped 11). It tells you they can rationally count items up to 5. This lets you know that you need to provide activities that will help them count more than 5 items rationally. You now have your math goals for your classroom for the next couple of weeks. As you plan activities for math, keep in mind that you want to extend their rational counting to 8 or 10. You can do this through fun, interactive Circle Time activities, during snack time, while cooking, etc.
Once you’ve worked on this skill for a few weeks, look back at your list. Which other math skills do your children not have? Now plan for those!
How you might ask? I have 2 resources for you. If you head over to my Teaching Preschool Math article here, you’ll see a link for a free download that has (and is named!) My Favorite 13 Preschool Math Activities. It has one math activity that you can do in your classroom for each of the main 13 math process skills.
If you are looking for some training on preschool math, you’ll want to check out my Math in the Preschool Classroom workshop. It is a self-study training that will help you to define each of the math process skills that preschoolers develop, learn how to assess your preschoolers’ skills, how to implement activities to support these skills and give you practice planning math activities for each interest learning center in your classroom (because math does not ONLY happen in a math interest enter!).
You can learn more about my Math in the Preschool Classroom workshop by clicking here.
Knowing the math process skills that are developmentally appropriate for your preschoolers to be working on will help you to help them build a strong math foundation. These foundational skills will be what will help them to succeed in math in the elementary years! Focus on this foundation now!
Until next time,