Most of us spent several years being taught math. However, only a few people know what real mathematics is. The rest of the people like me focus on memorizing theorems and solving mathematics problems. However, life is not constant.
Furthermore, our needs are not constant. Mathematics is not the same as we learned. Calculations and operations with numbers are not enough in this era because it is more abstract than ever. Understanding a problem and knowing how to approach a problem is more important than solving a math problem. Everything is now about patterns and relationships and about seeking multiple solutions to problems. We can observe that people are spending most of the time thinking rather than writing things down.
Children’s mathematical thinking is developing since early childhood. Even before starting a school, they engage with the world in mathematically productive ways. Most of them build their understanding of some mathematical concepts like addition and subtraction through various day-to-day interactions. There is a lot of mathematics in many routine and everyday activities, even in games or animation entertainment for children.
As the sister of a 3-year-old girl, I want to start focusing on my little sister’s approaches to mathematical thinking and problem solving because I want to prepare her to be quick problem solvers. I am finding myself thinking of how my sister acquires mathematical thinking and uses approaches to solve her real-life problems in her little world these days.
After a few weeks of thinking, I have finally come up with some strategies to enhance her mathematical thinking. Maybe with the plan that I found, she could be more familiar with mathematics.
Count and classify things
I started sitting on the floor with my sister each day for a while when she plays with her toys. I am using this time for counting activities. We are counting her toys, the buttons on my shirts, the stuff that she brings from the kitchen, different types of pieces, animals, etc. Counting and classifying her items is a very productive activity because she is learning how to group and identify similar characteristics in different things. That would be an excellent benefit for her education in the future.
I am also helping her observe the sizes of objects in her little world because shapes are everywhere. I started by showing the pockets of my shirts and buttons. Now she knows the difference between circle and rectangle. There is also a beautiful way to explore shapes. For instance, I am asking her to find all the rectangles and circles in our living room, and she is going on a shape treasure hunt. And after the hunt, I am letting her combine similar shapes into groups. She enjoys our activities because every time we go outside, she points out all the circles and rectangles she sees, like traffic lights, doors, billboards, etc. After a while, I plan to introduce other shapes like triangles and squares, and maybe cubes.
My sister likes being in the kitchen area like other children. She likes filling the bottle with water, mixing the cake, and pouring water into cups. I always encourage her to get involved in the kitchen, and even she is just 3. First of all, kitchen activities always make her happy. Secondly, she is learning volume and estimation.
Go for a walk
After we do some daily stuff, I am taking my family walking every day. Going for a walk is the best opportunity to practice math. She compares which car is bigger or smaller, counts the number of dry leaves we see on our way, notices the differences between flowers. And more interestingly, she has just learned the idea of distance. She realized that the park is farther away than Whole Foods. She can calculate the distance intuitively, and that’s made me so happy.
Singing multiplication table
I also started asking some little, simple addition and multiplication questions because being good at calculations and doing tons of practice will help her enhance her brain skills. And in order not to make her bored, we are singing songs about numbers and multiplication tables.
I hope these approaches help you these days to spend some enjoyable time with your kids and siblings!