In reading, the underlying skill is Phonemic Awareness. In math, it is number sense. Before a child is ready for formal math instruction in operations, he or she needs good number sense. Number Sense includes:
- One-to-one correspondence:
- students need to be able to count one for one up to 10 objects or images
- the expression of the number and touch of the object or image need to be simultaneous
- practice counting everything…laundry, silverware, toes, blocks….
- Recognizing the quantity of small groups of objects:
- our brains can recognize up to 4 objects without needing them to be arranged or organized.
- Beyond 4, we need to mentally break the group down into smaller groups or have them organized into a pattern.
- A great way to practice this skill is to play games with dice or dominoes.
- Conservation of number:
- this involves recognizing that the number does not change if relative location, size or arrangement changes. In other words, 3 markers are 3 markers if they are close together, far apart, in a vertical row, in a horizontal row, in a clump, etc.
- 3 markers, 3 chairs, 3 airplanes, 3 seeds…all are 3
- Once the above skills are in place, the child is ready to match numerals to quantities and learn their names.
- Other important pre-math skills are an understanding of
- positional words: under, over, next to, behind…
- and comparison words: bigger than, smaller than, biggest, smallest, etc.
The Green Readiness Book, listed in resources, has many fun activities to help your child develop these skills.
A good math tutor will not begin instruction in formal operations without making sure these concepts are in place.