Early math skills – number, counting, identifying shapes – are the most basic elements of mathematics. Yet basic does not equate to simple. It’s easy to mistake these skills as simple because we clearly know what a number is or what a shape is. However, the reality is that these skills are fantastically complex, and children’s brains are building them from scratch! If you ask me, that’s anything but simple.
Math is, at its core, a growing spiral of concepts. The concepts that kids learn in preschool through second grade reappear in their high school math classes. They may be hidden behind complex equations and symbols, but when it comes down to it, the ideas and thought processes learned in those early years remain the same.
This gradual building of ideas makes math beautiful – yet this is also what makes it challenging. It takes a lot of time and intentionality to provide children with the the diverse experiences their brains need in order to develop strong understandings. Children need to articulate their thinking, explore ideas from different perspectives, and pursue answers to questions. Without these experiences, new skills are built in isolation, making math appear disjointed, confusing, and arbitrary.
Many of us, including myself, were not provided with these rich experiences and, therefore, only developed a shallow understanding of math. Instead of seeing how the same concepts build and tie the different aspects of math together, we were taught to see procedures and rules.
This gap in understanding is at the heart of the Little Brains, Big Concepts series. My goal is to provide you with a deeper understanding of what your child is learning so that you can provide them with the right set of experiences their brains need to build a strong foundation for their future math learning.
Throughout this series, I will go in depth into some of the big concepts your child’s little brain is working through. In each post, I will give an overview of the concept as well as provide concrete strategies you can use at home to ensure your child has the rich set of experiences that so many of us lacked.
Here are a few of the big concepts I’m planning on tackling in Little Brains, Big Concepts:
- Counting Strategies
- Place Value
- Part/Whole Relationships
Yes, I’ll go into some formal math. I don’t expect you to go out and get your master’s in math education, but in order to get the most out of math time with your child, you’ll need a basic understanding of what your child is learning. Bear with me and I’ll prove to you that the big concepts your child is learning are fascinating!
Behind every small milestone is a big concept – join me to discover the incredible ideas forming inside your child’s little brain.
**Please note that the above list is subject to change. I’ve found that many times I go to write one post and it turns into two or three, or as I dig into the research, other interesting topics surface that I feel the need to share with you.