### Six Reasons You Should Explore Math with Your Child

Young children are naturally interested in mathematics. They frequently explore mathematical ideas when they compare things, sort and classify objects, recognize shapes and create patterns. Children should be encouraged and provided frequent opportunities to engage in mathematical learning and exploration. Below are six key reasons to support early math experiences for all children:

Success

There are enormous lifelong benefits associated with early mathematical experiences. Toddlers and preschoolers who have rich and supportive early math experiences are significantly more likely to excel in school. Positive experiences with early mathematics helps children gain critical skills necessary for school and career success.

How to support at home

Provide opportunities for your child to explore math. Have them measure, sort, cut out shapes, pour, build, compare, contrast, count, organize, invent, create patterns, and share their discoveries. Ask your child to figure out more than one way to do something. Have them explain their thinking and what they figured out. Explain that true mathematicians explore mathematical ideas and often consider many ways of coming up with a solution; great mathematical thinking takes time.

Confidence

Toddlers and preschoolers who are encouraged to engage in frequent mathematical experiences and explorations develop confidence in their ability to understand and use mathematics. They learn at an early age that everybody has the innate ability to excel in math. Children begin to understand that they use math everyday as they make meaning of their world. They learn that mathematics is within their reach!

How to support at home

Support your child’s persistence with math and integrate mathematical thinking, ideas, and activities throughout the day. Provide your child with opportunities to explore increasingly complex ideas and projects - try completing puzzles with an increasing number of pieces or ask how many chairs are needed at the table when visitors come to dinner. Give your child time to consider answers and don’t be too ready to solve something for them. Don’t underestimate your child’s ability, but prompt with a leading question if they become frustrated. Help them to understand that great mathematical ideas and solutions frequently require testing, trials, errors, risks, new approaches, etc. That’s what builds a capable and confident math mind!

Making Sense of the World

Mathematics helps children to reinvent, reorganize, generalize, classify, compare, and create. Mathematical exploration and play allow children to refine what they know and expand their experiential and intuitive understanding of how things work.

How to support at home

Help your child to see patterns in everyday life. Have them observe and talk about activities that happen at a certain time each day (Look, it’s 6:00. Mom will be home from work in about 15 minutes) or on a certain day of the week (It’s Tuesday, garbage pick-up day). Take a nature walk and have them identify things that are living, things with edges, things that are taller than they are, wide, low, circular, rough, smooth, etc. Ask them to help you with tasks that require them to classify or sort objects. Ask to figure out how much of something is needed when there is a change in circumstance – for example, how many total plates/spoons are needed when their cousins come to dinner, how many more is that than usual?

Communication

Mathematics gives children a way to express themselves and compare and contrast their world. It provides a vehicle for children to give voice to their discoveries and observations.

How to support at home

Talk to your child about math in their daily life. Compare heights. (Who is taller Joey or Rover?) Ask them to explain their reasoning. (How did you know how many forks you needed to set the table?) Ask your child to tell what they learned or observed. (What do you notice when you count by 2s or count by 5s?) Read stories with a math focus and discuss together (Ten on the Sled, Tell Me the Day Backwards, Stars, So Many Circles, So Many Squares, A Second Is a Hiccup, Press Here, Please Baby Please. Perfect Square, One Watermelon Seed, Mother Goose Numbers on the Loose, More, How Many Baby Pandas?, How Do You Count a Dozen Ducklings, Color Zoo, Counting Our Way to Maine, Bedtime in the Jungle). Search for other math titles at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ci/cr/rl/

Building Important Social Skills

Children who are encouraged to explore mathematical ideas and concepts become more persistent learners who eagerly seek out new challenges. A solid early math foundation helps children develop critical attributes such as imagination, flexibility, curiosity, inventiveness, and persistence.

How to support at home

Provide opportunities for children to use their imagination. Have them create a pattern and explain the pattern. (Offer unmatched sets of socks to create a pattern) Practice taking turns and include words like “first,” “second,” “more,” “next,” “later,” “less,” “less than,” “equal,” etc. Have them predict what comes next in a pattern; play clapping games and have them repeat a clapping pattern. Play board games together.

Problem-Solving and Reasoning

Children who are encouraged to take time to explore mathematical ideas and situations develop a surprisingly complex and enduring appreciation of mathematical relationships and approaches. They learn that mathematics often reveals many solutions to the same problem. Better yet, they may internalize that finding solutions takes time, persistence, and a willingness to take risks.

How to support at home

Play with blocks, design and build a bird house or other structure, have your child test ideas to see what works and doesn’t work, have your child follow written or picture directions to make or do something, have your child double a recipe, ask questions like, “What would happen if…?” Have your child make a prediction and then test to see the result. Ask questions like, “What do you think might solve a particular challenge?” and “What do you think might not work so well?” Test the results and have your child explain why something did or didn’t happen.