Building Math Skills

Kindergarten to Grade 1
Tips for Parents

  • Cut out cardboard squares, triangles, and circles (five of each, at least two to three inches in size). Make a game of putting the shapes that are the same together. This is an exercise in classification. Does your child recognize the difference in the shapes? Does he or she know what the shapes are called? If not, ask again at a later time.

  • Put your cardboard shapes into a pattern: for example, line up a circle, square, triangle, circle, square, and triangle. Ask your child to put the other pieces together in the same pattern. This is another classification activity.

  • Put out five buttons and ask your child, "How many buttons are there?" Take two away and ask, "How many are there now?" You could add to this as a way of determining how your child's understanding of numbers is developing.

  • Another way of seeing how well your child understands numbers is to play board games that call for markers to be moved forward and backward so many spaces -- for example, "Now you can move four spaces forward."

  • Ask your child to help you measure something in the house -- a rectangular table, a room, a bookshelf. The process will demonstrate your child's beginning measurement skills.

  • With counters (buttons, game pieces, or the like) at hand, ask what two plus two equals, what two minus two equals, what two minus one equals, whether five is greater than four or less than four.

  • Telling time is an important skill. Occasionally ask your child, "Can you see what time it is?" (Do not expect a precise reading unless from a digital clock.)

  • While cooking or baking, ask your child to put in some of what the recipe calls for: three tablespoons of sugar, two cups of flour, and the like. This is a good way to see your child put math to use.

  • There are many opportunities for counting during everyday activities. While cooking you could ask, "Can you count out six potatoes?" Or ask, "Can you put ten cookies on the plate for dessert?"

  • Read the house numbers as you go around the block.

Reprinted from 101 Educational Conversations with Your Kindergartner -- 1st Grader by Vito Perrone, published by Chelsea House Publishers.
Copyright 1994 by Chelsea House Publishers, a division of Main Line Book Co. All rights reserved.

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