Preschoolers are called preschoolers for one clear reason: They are not yet ready for formal schooling. Being so, many moms eschew mathematics activities for their children as these activities may seem too much like formal schooling. However, math activities can bring many benefits to preschoolers besides the preparatory schools for math class. As a mom, you may worry about introducing your young child to scary subjects such as algebra or geometry, but doing so does not have to be painful — if done right, it can add up to lots of fun.

## Learning Numbers

Whether shopping at the grocery story or solving Einstein’s equations, activities involving number skills rely on a fundamental understanding of what a number is. At a young age, children begin to conceptualize quantities, but do not naturally learn to write them as representative numbers. Involving a preschooler in an activity that helps her make the connection between quantity and number will give her a head start for dealing with practical problems. Possible activities usually include counting activities, such as counting animals in a picture book or blocks. If you start her early, your child will be on her way to successfully inquiring about numbers in daily life, including mommy’s age — scary thought.

## Recognizing Shapes

By the preschool years, most children have a clear concept of shape. However, many school systems wait until kindergarten to formally introduce children to shapes. Preschool activities on shapes can give a child a head-start. Activities that not only introduce the names of shapes but also allow children to manipulate shapes, such as by playing with putty or drawing, can solidify the concept of shape at an early age. You can even craft your little darling into a young Picasso if you connect these activities to drawing, guiding him to draw with shapes instead of lines.

## Using Correct Measurement Units

Measurement includes more than simply recording numbers. Many preschoolers fail to understand the meanings of measurements due to lack of knowledge about what measurements actually are. Engaging your child in activities that show how measurements are numbers quantifying ideas through units, you can set in his mind strong concepts of estimation, comparison, and quantity. A measurement activity can be as simple as having your child record his weight or as complex as keeping a food journal that includes amount of food and dining time. One of the overall goals in these activities is to instruct your child to use units in statements of measurement. Done correctly, you will find your child correctly state his weight while other preschoolers are stating they weigh 40 inches.

## Classification Skills

Classification is a mathematical concept overlapping with language. A math activity that deals with classifying objects, whether purely mathematical or simply pictorial, will train your child’s ability to categorize the world into meaningful groups. This form of activity can even train your child’s language skills by eliciting reasons for why a certain object should be in a certain group. Best of all, classification activities can be linked with real-world activities, such as cooking or painting. By eliciting and assisting your child in defining types of foods and colors, you are helping him shape his worldview. Just be sure to prepare in advance for the question, “Mommy, is a tomato a fruit or a vegetable?”