Early Math Skills

You can help your child build early math skills by talking about numbers and how we use them in everyday life. This will help your child develop basic problem solving skills, understand patterns and sequences, and support early literacy. Counting every day objects and finding patterns and shapes around them are important ways that children understand how to use early math.

Below are tips to support your child’s early math skills development:

Encourage Counting

  • Ask children to count items in picture books: How many cats do you see? How many windows are there?

  • Suggest children count real, everyday, objects using one number for each item.

Sorting and Matching

  • Ask children to match pictures of things that go together in storybooks: “Show me the picture of the bed for papa bear. Show me baby bear’s bed.”

  • Ask children to help with simple household tasks such as sorting and matching socks.

Put Events in Order

  • Talk about the fact that stories have a beginning, middle and end.

  • Use words that help children understand the order in which things happen, such as “first” and “second.” “First we need to wash our hands. Second we will eat apples.”

Identify Simple Shapes

  • Look for different shapes in your house and neighborhood: What shape are the windows? What shape are the plates?

  • Help children point out circles, squares, and triangles in books.

Understand the Number Line

  • Play board games like Candy Land or Hopscotch in which children count the number of moves.

Suggested Books for Early Math Skills

Ten, Nine, Eight
Feast for Ten
The Napping House
My Granny Went to Market
My Bus
Big Fat Hen
Shapes, Shapes, Shapes,
Anno's Counting Book
Goldilocks and the Three Bears