How to model math language in your everyday life. Learning about math starts early, and you are the perfect person to introduce it! For a deep dive into how you can step into your role as first teacher, check out my early childhood 101 course.
How to Model Math Language in Your Everyday Life
Modeling is one of the most powerful teaching strategies to have in your toolbelt. I am going to teach you how to use modeling to help your child learn concepts of math and the language that goes along with those concepts. Because children can start learning about math right from the start, they don’t need to wait until they are doing worksheets in school to try and understand it.
“Children are great imitators. So give them something great to imitate.”
Math Standards that relate
First, let’s break down what math concepts preschool aged children are learning about in very basic terms.
Preschool aged children are learning:
Number names and count sequence.
How to count to tell the number of objects.
How to compare numbers.
Addition is putting things together and subtraction is taking things away.
To describe and compare measurable attributes.
To classify objects and count the number of objects in categories.
How to identify and describe shapes.
How to analyze, compare, create, and compose shapes.
As you can see: counting, numbers, and shapes are some big mathematical themes happening at this stage.
Progress from self talk to a conversation about it
Modeling math concepts and language starts out with self talk. This simply means verbalizing your thoughts and actions. As you start doing this, you will find that you think about math a lot more than you might realize.
You can start using self talk to incorporate math concepts and language from the time your baby is born. Being surrounded with this kind of language from early on will help your child grasp the concepts and pick up on the vocabulary so quickly.
As your child gets older, begin taking that self talk one step further. Describe how you got to a conclusion, or teach the concept you are working through.
These conversations will set the stage for a growing conversation that will get more complex as your child grows up.
What started as you counting scoops of flour into your bread dough, will become a conversation with your four year old about volume, addition, and algebra.
Examples of How to Model Math Language in Your Everyday Life
Here are some real life examples of what self talk, or conversations about math might look like in your everyday life:
While you cook together, count the number of scoops you put in of each ingredient.
“One, two, three.”
“I need three scoops, I already put one in, so now I need two more.”
“This recipe needs a lot of flour, it needs 8 cups. This is how big a cup is. Do you think 8 cups can fit in this bowl? Let’s see. One, two…”
Point out shapes in your environment.
“This tire is a circle.”
“Look at this leaf, it has three sides. I know a shape that has three sides, a triangle!”
“Hmmm, that’s a good question. What shape is our door? Well, I notice it has four sides and four corners. What shapes have four sides and four corners? Yeah, a square and a rectangle. A square has four equal sides, a rectangle has two long sides and two short sides. Which one do you think our door is? It looks like a rectangle to me too.”
Count the things you do during the day.
Such as putting legs in pants- “one leg, two leg”, or feet in socks- “one foot, two foot”.
Count your steps between the door and the car.
Countdown out loud with the microwave.
Count pictures in a book.
Count how many seconds it takes to fill a bucket with water.
Once you start looking for it, you will find math concepts spread all throughout your day. By taking small, intentional steps- you can set your child up for a deep understanding of mathematical concepts.