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You’re Never Too Young to Learn Math

St. Anne’s Early Learning Centers Encourage Families to Build Math Skills

If you saw a 2-year-old tossing red and green balls into same-colored holes, you would probably think the child was playing. But the toddler would also be learning matching, an important early math skill. A 4-year-old playing hopscotch? That child is learning to count.

Many parents do not realize that simple play activities for infants and toddlers are crucial steps toward math mastery in school—and that parents have an important role in promoting math learning.

In April, St. Anne’s hosted 150 parents and children from our Early Learning Centers for a fun family workshop to develop early math skills. The goal was for parents to learn and practice activities so they can reinforce children’s emerging math skills at home.

The parents and children were divided into two groups: one for infants and toddlers and another for preschoolers. Both age groups visited multiple stations, each with an activity that taught a key math skill. Every station was staffed by one of St. Anne’s early childhood teachers, who explained to parents how the activity builds a math skill. The center buzzed with excitement as families rotated to a new station every 12 minutes.

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For example, parents and children ages 0 to 2 sang math songs that taught counting and shapes. Preschoolers learned one-to-one correspondence by lacing beads onto a string while counting each bead.

According to Brenda Sandoval, parent involvement coordinator, ELC children are very excited when their parents conduct the same early learning activities at home that they have done in the classroom. “Collaboration between teachers and parents is powerful to children,” says Brenda. Research corroborates this: When parents reinforce school learning, children’s achievement, motivation and attitude toward school improve.

Parents received a copy of Head Start’s early math initiative handbook to guide learning activities at home. St. Anne’s plans an evaluation after parents have had time to implement math activities at home so staff can improve the event next year.

The most fulfilling aspect of the workshop to Brenda, who co-coordinated the event, was seeing the activities she had studied move from paper into action. “It’s amazing to see children learning these skills right before your eyes,” Brenda says.

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