Math and Number Awareness involves a variety of skills, including: Numeral identification (recognizing all 10 numerals from 0 through 9 and knowing each numeral’s name); Counting; One-to-one correspondence; Counting on; Patterning recognition and creation; and Sorting and classifying.
Basic math and number concepts utilized in a preschool or kindergarten classroom set the foundation for learning more advanced math concepts. Early exposure to math and number activities will promote your child’s comfort with these skills. Also, additional opportunities to practice these skills will increase your child’s confidence when working with math and number concepts and will lead him to believe he is “good at math.” If your child does not become comfortable with math and number concepts at a young age, he will lack confidence in his abilities and may become hesitant as more advanced math concepts are introduced.
Math learning is most exciting for children when hands-on manipulates (fancy teacher-speak for small objects that can be easily handled or manipulated) are incorporated. Manipulates give children tangible representations of the otherwise abstract concepts related to numbers and counting. For example, when asking a child to count to 30, he may become lost or distracted halfway through. But, when you give the same child 30 small beans and ask him to count them, he will likely be able to apply one-to-one correspondence and accurately count all 30 beans.
Hands-on manipulates are also essential when teaching patterning. Consider trying to explain pattern creation to your child without using hands-on manipulates, by asking your child “red block, blue block, red block, blue block… what comes next?” Understandably your child probably did not memorize the order of words that you said and will struggle to answer correctly. By giving your child small red and blue blocks to place in order as you say the same pattern, “red block, blue block, red block, blue block,” you will increase the likelihood that he will be able to continue the pattern.
Children are expected to begin preschool able to count from one to ten (likely by rote memorization) and to recognize a handful of printed numerals. By the middle of the preschool year, children should be able to count a group of up to five objects and continue basic patterns. By kindergarten, children are expected to complete more complicated tasks such as counting to 100, counting a group of up to 20 objects, and creating complex patterns. The wide variety of math and number activities children is introduced to in preschool and kindergarten establishes an important foundation for more advanced math activities that will be introduced in primary school.