By: Beth & Maryrose
Hooray, you’ve survived the first day of pre- or elementary school and maybe even attended a “Back to School Night.” We’re guessing that you’ve heard from your child’s teacher (and probably already knew) that the best way to help your child learn to read is to, well, read with them often. This makes sense, of course. Well, the same concepts of consistency and repetition also apply when learning math, and our newsletter and the tools on our site are geared toward building a foundation for math that will stick.
Many parents in elementary school are focused on a child's progress learning to read, which is understandable, but fewer parents take as active an interest in math development. Often parents will leave it for school to teach math either because they don't want to confuse their child with a different approach or they don't feel confident with teaching math at home. Parents may also perceive that math in lower elementary school is easy and therefore if a child can demonstrate basic math skills (counting, adding, subtracting), then there is nothing more to do at home for now. Our goal is to share simple games to help parents connect with their child and engage in mathematical concepts in a way that will not conflict with what is taught in schools and will help parents maximize the formative years of development.
Why is building an early foundation for math important? Engaging with your children early will help them begin to see and remember number patterns through “cognitive mapping” -- the process where brains, through repetition, grow, interconnect and “map” their experiences to memory. Once a child can count five objects, she can build on this number sense by breaking apart the number five and putting it back together in different ways. From there a child can begin to work more confidently with the number five, counting backward, counting higher, skip-counting, and so on. Through consistent practice, a deeper understanding will be ‘built into a child’s brain map’ in a fun, explorative way. Much like riding a bike, a child needs to be comfortable with the basics of balance, pedaling and steering before riding faster or on uneven terrain.
One of our Curriculum Designers Kate McNamara just started back to school in her K-2 classroom, and she has some advice for parents: "In addition to reading progress and social development, I would love if parents did more number sense and math games. Pointing out numbers and talking about things in a natural way to help children understand math concepts in their own environments."
We think building a continuous foundation in math is important, which is why we are grateful to you for your participation in reading and sharing our newsletter. Our lives are all pretty hectic, but finding short windows of time to play and discuss math with your kiddo each week will pay off, we promise. We’re here each week to provide a gentle reminder to play and some resources to help you be successful.