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Learning Math in Preschool

Meaningful Situations

Children develop an informal knowledge of mathematical concepts and ideas through interactions with people and things. This makes the role of family and tutors crucial in children’s numeracy skills as they are the child’s first teachers. The normalized activities we perform every day affect the children’s ability to grasp numerical concepts hence should be used as a form of a learning curve for the children. This presents an opportunity for the environment to create situations that may be used to raise the children’s numeracy skills. These created situations may be either indoors or outdoors.

The indoor activities can include counting of fingers, toes, or toys. The purpose of these numeracy skills is to help them acquire the one to one correspondence, which is instrumental in their numeracy skill development (Tuuling, Õun, and Ugaste, 2019). The children may be required to count objects in their surroundings to show that there is a totality in the counting process. This is called the cardinality principle that emphasizes on the understanding that the final numeric stated when counting a set of items represents the wholesome of the objects. This concept is instrumental in the children’s knowledge of subtracting and addition in mathematics. At home, parents can teach children this principle by preparing a situation where the child has to decide in totality how many objects such as fruits are in one sitting.

Outdoor activities can involve walks around the neighborhood and supermarkets where there are many different objects to train. The children can count the number of items you are shopping at a go hence improving their ability to count. The variety of options in a supermarket can be ideal as children can have the urge to learn from an object he or she likes, thus improving the essential math comprehension ability. Another outdoor activity would be the counting of cars and houses in the vicinity. When children count items based on their perceived orientation of objects such as cars, it influences their mathematics concept grasping as they learn the counting sequence and can recite numbers in order. This shows that the children can be able to rote count, counting while pointing to the objects to get a total numerical figure.

Usage of Concrete Materials in Math

There are materials found in early classrooms that could be used to make numerical connections between the symbols, pictures, or language. Such materials can be seen, felt, touched, and manipulated for mathematical learning. Such materials include learning through pictures stuck on the walls of the classroom. Children can build relationships between the numbers and the pictures or represented objects. According to the National Center for Infants, pictures are favorable to the children as they can visualize the picture as real, hence making numeracy real in the minds of the children (Triana, Zubainur, and Bahrun, 2019). The children can be asked to count the number of representation in a picture as they can visualize the items.

The basics of subtracting and adding are important for the foundation in math skills; hence the teachers need to instill this concept in the children. This can be taught by sharing food items or adding objects and challenging the children to count the extras or the ones removed. This makes it fun for the children to engage in activities within their childhood literacy level and knowledge.

Preschool classrooms can have an average of 20 children; hence, it can be used as a way to teach the children the concept of numeracy by counting the students. The tutors can ask the children at a time to count the number of students in a row or column. This will, in turn, help in the summing up of the total population on the board for the children to see as all students are involved in this learning curve.

Vocabulary Used to Scaffold

Receptive understanding means the ability to understand information, that is, words and meaning of what other people say or read. However, children lack the vocabulary required for them to engage people articulating what they have understood; thus, the responsibility falls on the teachers and parents to help them verbalize what they have learned.  This is done by assisting them in learning more words related to mathematical concepts to increase their knowledge of the topic.

The vocabulary presented aims at enabling the children to solve tasks beyond their efforts, which is scaffolding. As presented by Vygotsky, a process is his theory of cognitive development, which focuses on three components; a more knowledgeable other, social interactions with skillful teachers, and scaffolding (Hebe, 2017). This process is known as the zone of primal development, and assistance is crucial to the children achieving a task. The children can be taught multiplication, division, the meaning of decimal places in numbers and advanced addition and subtraction through a tutor. The vocabulary used can provide specific instructions and direct demonstration. Specific instructions vocabulary is where the tutor instructs the child to get a specific number of objects to determine the child’s knowledge of cardinality of numbers, for example, an instruction to get ten bottle tops from a collection of them. A direct demonstration is where the tutor shows the child how to complete a numerical problem, such as multiplication. This direct demonstration is brought about by the tutor and children’s social interaction, and he or she adjusts his level of help depending on the level of performance exhibited.

Multisensory Learning Experience

Maths can be taught in multisensory, which means delivering numerical concepts within the five senses; touch, sight, hear, smell, and taste. These senses can be utilized in teaching maths to children within the classroom. The sense of touch is represented by use cereals such as beans to solve mathematical problems in preschool. The movement of the cereals helps the children understand how math operations work. The sense of sight is illustrated by the drawing of math problems as the children can visualize the numeracy of the items they have drawn. For example, the children can draw as four sets of stars and draw another two sets of stars; thus, they can visualize how the addition process works.

Hearing sense can be accomplished by having a musical element in the classroom. The tutor can play musical notes from a keyboard while holding each note; therefore, ask the children to count the notes as the tutor continues playing the keyboard. The sense of smell in preschoolers is presumed to be a good or bad smell. Tutors can have several items soaked in cinnamon, while others in strawberry ask the children to identify the smell while adding up the number of objects that smell good versus the number of items with a foul smell. The use of edibles can accomplish the sense of taste in the classroom. The tutor can have a packet of biscuits where children can be taught numerical fractions. The children can be asked to share one biscuit among four of them, teaching them the quarter fraction or between two preschoolers to show the half fraction.



Evaluating Concept Understanding

Children can learn math independently and be able to construct their mathematical concepts. This discovery learning is explained in Piaget’s theory of cognitive development (Hebe, 2017). The responsibility of measuring the understanding of children’s knowledge fall on the tutors. The assessment of the depth of children’s understanding can be derived from checklists and written papers denoting numerical problems. This can be done through continuous assessment tests aimed at assessing each child’s mathematical understanding of a topic. This can effectively show how the tutor, whether the children grasped the concept previously taught. The tutor can ultimately shift focus to the children whose assessment proves they have not understood the concept sufficiently to help them be at par with other students.




Hebe, H. N. (2017). Towards a theory-driven integration of Environmental Education: The application of Piaget and Vygotsky in Grade R. International Journal of Environmental and Science Education, 12(6), 1525-1545.

Triana, M., Zubainur, C. M., & Bahrun, B. (2019). Students’ Mathematical Communication Ability through the Brain-Based Learning Approach using Autograph. JRAMathEdu (Journal of Research and Advances in Mathematics Education), 1(1), 1-10.

Tuuling, L., Õun, T., & Ugaste, A. (2019). Teachers’ opinions on utilizing outdoor learning in the preschools of Estonia. Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning, 19(4), 358-370.

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