Incorporating Math into Lesson Planning

STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) is being pushed in K-12 education extensively due to the global economy increasingly becoming more high-tech.  High paying careers in computer programming, engineering, skilled labor and other associated careers all require extensive knowledge of math specifically.  To give our students the biggest possible advantage in being successful later on in life, it’s essential we introduce them to math during their preschool years.

Math concepts and skills taught to preschoolers are meant to serve as foundational knowledge they can take with them into elementary school.  You may be wondering the following: why is it important that 3-5 year old children be introduced to math?

According to STEM Smart, math only gets 58 seconds of attention out of a normal 6 hour preschool or pre-kindergarten day.  This is astounding, especially when we think about how much time is dedicated to literacy. Research even shows that preschool/pre-kindergarten math skills are just as important as literacy skills in predicting future academic success. In addition, Jie-Qi Chen, Ph.D., a child development specialist with the Erikson Institute argues that math is essential for preschoolers/pre-kindergartners because it is the language of logic. Don’t we want our our children fluent in logic? I think that answer is quite clear.

Additional Information on Why Teaching Math to Preschoolers is Important:

Now that the importance of preschool math education has been proven, it is essential to discuss the best ways teachers can implement it effectively in the classroom.

The Do’s for Implementing Math in the Classroom:

  • Utilize hands-on learning experiences to teach math. Make it fun!
  • Discuss with parents how their child is progressing in their math skills. Explain to them the importance of having these skills, how you assess them and also how you work with their child to improve them. Having a partnership with parents in which both parties collaborate will enhance the effectiveness of your teaching methods!
  • Explain to the children why math matters.  Like learners of all ages, children want to know why what their learning matters. What will it allow them to do?
  • Incorporate teaching math into your daily routine. Set aside time on a daily basis. Commit to it just as you commit to circle time or reading aloud.
  • Teach math cross-curriculum.  Incorporate math into reading, science, centers, etc. (example: add blocks with the children as they build during block time).
  • Use discussion rather than rapid fire questioning to teach math concepts. Rapid fire questioning can be a bit overwhelming, and turn children off from the subject as a whole.
  • Teach math to infants and toddlers too! Check out this NAEYC Resource to learn more about catering your math curriculum to these important life stages.

The Don’ts for Implementing Math in the Classroom:

  • Don’t sit children down and try to teach math through a lecture format. Their attention span isn’t advanced enough for this method to be effective.
  • Don’t rely on close-ended math questions only; allow children to utilize their creativity.
  • Don’t rely on the usage of apps and technology only to teach math.  While computers and iPads offer plenty of different applications that teach the subject, teachers providing real-time feedback offers children the encouragement they need.
  • Don’t focus on one area of math only (example: shapes).  Diversify lessons to incorporate the variety of important math concepts that are DAP.
  • Don’t forget to partner with parents to discuss how they are incorporating math into their child’s life outside of the center.

Questions to think about:

  • How many minutes/hours do you spend working on math with the children in your classroom?
  • How can you work math into your daily routine/
  • How will you assess whether a child is developmentally proficient in math?
  • What activities have you found to be a fun and creative way to teaching math?

*All articles linked to in this post are both sources and recommended readings!

 

children playing

 

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One thought on “Incorporating Math into Lesson Planning

  1. It is non-debatable that literacy and simple math (regardless of your profession of later life) are the most important “subjects” that adults use in daily life: budgeting finances, calculating arrival time with mph and miles, etc. Math is a very engaging and beneficial tool that can be added into curriculums at any daycare, not to mention making it fun. One idea off the top of my mind that I enjoyed as a child was Skittles counting (maybe it is just because I love candy…). Children utilize sensory and spatial awareness to divide the candies into their corresponding colors while also counting how many there are. Simple addition of one’s reds to another can be a example of simple addition, keeping in mind the importance of hands-on activities.

    As you have highlighted, holding any forms of lectures would be an inappropriate way to introduce math to children. Historically, math has a stereotype of being “boring.” Holding lectures and practice worksheets and things of this nature would reinforce this stereotype, derailing us from the idea of making math fun and practical in everyday life (saying, “wow, that is a huge building you made! How many blocks did you use? Let’s count!”

    Adding positive reinforcement and support within the idea of incorporating math into the daycare is essential as well. Like all things, kids feel valued and loved when we give our attention and listen. This obviously applies when teaching math as well because it can be a very difficult concept to grasp (I had trouble with math growing up so I can attest). Patience is utmost important, with a “little-by-little” mindset to ensure children are learning, growing, and improving each day.

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