The last few installments in my early math and language series have focused on language. Today, it’s time to talk a bit more about math. As with the alphabet, many adults are in a hurry for children to learn numbers. Like the letters of the alphabet, however, written numerals are actually quite abstract and, without a thorough understanding of what they stand for, are not particularly useful to young children. Early preparation for mathematics can come from many of the activities already discussed in this series, such as matching, sorting, and grading. Beyond that, there is much to do before bothering with learning numbers and operations.
My point in discussing these ideas is not to point out still more that we as parents need to worry about, but instead to highlight the complexity of the preparatory skills young children develop before they can have a meaningful understanding of numbers and other mathematical concepts. For most children, everyday life will provide plenty of opportunities to develop these preparatory skills, but it’s important that we honor the child’s process and allow them plenty of time to learn and absorb these pre-math concepts before we stress about teaching them math in a more formal way. For those interested in providing tools and activities to assist with early math learning, the following Montessori based ideas may be helpful. If you have ideas of your own, please share them! Continue reading
We had a family day yesterday, thanks to the husband being off work for Labor Day, so I’m taking a week off from the math and language talk. Our family day did involve a trip to the craft store, however, so I have some photos I’d like to share with you. If you’re a regular reader, you have an idea of how I (try to) organize our house for toddler independence. Annabelle’s toys are rotated in and out and are kept on shelves, but I don’t do a whole lot of trays which I know many families love. Interestingly, however, Annabelle has had little interest in her puzzles and other toys lately. She plays with Tinker Toys almost exclusively, and ignores the things on her shelves. She has also gotten really good at using one thing at a time, whether a toy or something else, and putting it away when she’s finished. With all this in mind, I thought I’d experiment with welcoming fall by filling her downstairs shelf with fall themed activities on trays. So, while philosophically it’s not what I strive for in the home, the corner of our living room currently looks like it was taken from the Practical Life area of a Montessori classroom. It will be interesting to see how Annabelle interacts with things as compared to what I was putting out before. Continue reading
I’ve been talking about early math and language skills here for the past couple of weeks, and today for part three I’ll talk a bit about preparatory activities for writing. The main point of this series was to highlight the fact that many skills actually precede reading and early math, and that these academic skills are often pushed far too early. The skills I talk about can and do unfold naturally in children with time, but I believe it’s best to give them time to unfold before guiding children toward formal academic reading and writing work. If we wish to work with our children and move toward the mastery of these academic skills, we can begin with some of the activities discussed in this series.
Once again, I’ll look first at how these skills are fostered in the Montessori classroom. That’s the inspiration for my ideas, and can surely spark many in addition to mine. Continue reading
Last Monday, I talked a bit about early math and language skills. I mentioned that I don’t believe teaching numerals and letters is typically the best focus with toddlers or young preschoolers. I also described the complexity of the prerequisite skills children develop as they prepare to read, write, and do basic math – with foundational math skills actually being an important preparation for early language skills. Today I’d like to look at how some of those prerequisite skills are fostered in the Montessori classroom, and how we as parents can nurture them in the home.
For my fellow parents, I’ll reiterate something that I have to remind myself of frequently: Most, if not all of these skills are learned naturally and implicitly. If creating activities and trays is not your thing, your child will still learn to sort various objects. They will eventually figure out that when we count, each number corresponds with one and only one object. Don’t worry. If you enjoy creating trays and coming up with games, go for it! They’re sure to be enriching and fun. If that’s not your thing, just an awareness of the skills your child is building will hopefully help as you go about your days together, by giving you ideas for language to use, attributes to point out, and the various ways you can approach the experiences that come up in your everyday life.
Regular readers are probably tired of hearing about our upcoming trip, but it’s finally almost here, so I thought I would share some of the things I’m packing to keep 23 month old Annabelle happy during our 26 hours of travel. Fortunately 8 of those hours will be made up of layovers, so running around and using up energy should fill the time quite easily. For the other 18, here’s what we have: Continue reading