Young children learn about math and science each day during typical conversations. They see shapes in their natural environment like the stop signs on the street. They decide if they want more or less. These normal conversations introduce new vocabulary and concepts before children enter kindergarten. With an increased emphasis on STEM skills (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) in elementary and secondary education, the caregivers of preschoolers are extremely interested on how math and science concepts can be implemented in the preschool classroom. Early childhood mathematics should not look like children memorizing numbers or answering simple equations; however, there are key pre-math skills that all children should learn to be ready for school.
Children learn mathematical skills in the classroom by play and exploration. This means that one of the most important jobs of the early childhood educator is to make sure that there are a variety of math materials for the children to use during play time. Children also learn math concepts through conversation and song. Teachers need to dedicate time each day to having conversations with the children while they play. During play time, the educator can include simple math questions into the conversation like “How many bears are sitting on the block?” Teachers can also use simple songs to include math concepts in daily conversations.
Dr. Sarah Vanover has been working in the field of early childhood education for over 22 years and has had the opportunity to be a teacher, a director, and a trainer for other early childhood educators. She has a passion for making sure that children with special needs receive high-quality early care and education.