Wondering what preschoolers should know when it comes to mathematical concepts, and how best to help them? Here's our essential guide to all things preschool math, plus expert book picks to make learning fun!
What math concepts are preschoolers ready to explore? Learn what's on offer in preschool mathematics with this overview of preschool math skills, from number operations and measurement to shapes and patterning, plus get ideas for practicing math skills at home.
In preschool, math learning is focused on counting, number recognition, and one-to-one correspondence. Learn how to help your preschooler practice with fun and age-appropriate techniques that will make exploring these math milestones as easy as 1, 2, 3!
Times tables, addition and skip counting all require an understanding of and proficiency in patterning. In preschool, identifying and creating patterns is just the beginning of the mastery of life-long mathematical skills. Learn how to use the world around you and objects from around the house to introduce your child to patterning and give him a head start in mathematical thinking.
Sorting and classifying objects helps children begin to notice how items are alike and different, and creates an awareness that is vital for math learning. Learn how to teach the skills of sorting and classifying by drawing attention to how things are alike and different as you and your child go about your daily routine.
Although recognizing objects as red or blue, round or square might seem like child’s play, it’s actually integral to a young child’s cognitive development, and sets the stage for math concepts from sorting and patterning to geometry, and beyond! Learn how to help your young learner master colors and shapes.
From number operations and geometric and spatial sense to measurement and analyzing data, preschool math has a lot on offer. Learn about preschool math milestones from 3 to 4 years, 4 to 4 1/2, and 4 1/2 to 5 years.
Delve deep into the specific math skills that preschoolers age 3 to 4 explore, from specifics on which numbers they should know to what's normal in patterns, reasoning and number operation skills.
Delve deep into the specific math skills that preschoolers age 4 to 5 explore, from how high they should be able to count to what's normal in geometry and number sense.
Preschool Books for Learning to Love Math
"Books about math and numbers are really fun to read aloud, as you can pause together and play counting games, or talk and think together about where in the world your child is seeing numbers and math connections every day," says Pam Allyn, author of What to Read When and Executive Director of Litlife, a national organization dedicated to literacy education.
Allyn picked her five favorite preschool books to get children acquainted with numbers and math concepts. “These books convey elements of math in visual and exciting ways, sure to delight and inspire children from the very beginning!” Here are her picks for preschool reading:
- Ten Black Dots by Donald Crews (HarperCollins: 1995) Read to uncover the diverse places where you might find ten black dots. This straightforward counting book uses clear graphic illustrations to demonstrate when we might see one dot, two dots, or three dots. First published in 1968, this book has stood the test of time, making it an important counting book for youngsters.
- The Grapes of Math by Greg Tang, illustrated by Harry Briggs (Scholastic, Inc.: 2001) Read to discover new and creative ways to learn math. Learn how to solve math problems without even realizing it, using this fun, rhyming book full of math riddles and exciting illustrations. “How many scallops in this bunch; count them quick, it’s time for lunch.” Or, find out how many mushrooms are on the pizza pie or how many seeds hide in the watermelon.
- Just a Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book by Yuyi Morales (Chronicle Books: 2003) Read this book written in Spanish and English to explore a clever take on counting. Grandma Beetle is preparing for her birthday party when a skeleton visits her. She says, “Just a minute!” and the skeleton follows her as she does her chores, each one linked to a number from one to ten.
- Mother Goose: Numbers on the Loose by Leo and Diane Dillon (Harcourt Children’s Books: 2007) Read to learn to count using traditional rhymes. Using illustrations, animals, and rhymes, the Dillons teach counting to young readers.
- Miss Spider’s Tea Party: The Counting Book by David Kirk (Scholastic, Inc.: 2007) Read to learn about counting, along with the bigger theme of not judging someone before you know her. Continue following Miss Spider’s adventures by reading the other books in the series. Miss Spider’s carefully counted guests run away from her tea party when they learn that spiders are predators. However, when they hear that Miss Spider has been kind to an injured moth, they quickly change their minds and rejoin Miss Spider for tea.