Sometimes we tend to think to simplistically about mathematics and young children. You hear someone say ” my daughter knows all her numbers. She can count to 20. ” While counting is an accomplishment, it is only one very small part of knowing numbers.
Counting to 10 or 20 or even 100 is called rote counting and requires only the memorization of the number order. The child may or may not have any real understanding of amount or quantity.
Number vocabulary and concepts that young learners can begin to use in meaningful ways include some, more, less, bigger, smaller, pairs , groups, parts, and wholes. Talking and thinking about numbers and quantity as a part of doing activities is a natural way for children to develop mathematical concepts.
Parents can point out math- related aspects of every day situations. Use number words in conversation: ” let’s put these two shirts here or we need three more glasses on the table. ” Estimate how long it will take to get to grandmothers house. Measure how far the ball rolls. Divide a dozen cookies among four family members .
A simple math vocabulary grows from experience in cooking and measuring, understanding that numbers have names and written symbols, guessing anf estimating, and talking about days and weeks. These experiences lay the groundwork for beginning math.