Manipulatives like an abacus can improve understanding.

Math Curriculum for Gifted Preschoolers

by Maggie McCormick

Traditional math curricula place emphasis on repetition and building on skills already learned. For example, teachers may cover the same topics year after year, while delving deeper into each topic. This can be particularly challenging to a mathematically gifted child, according to the Davidson Center for Talent Development. A traditional program may unintentionally hold your child back from her true potential. If you have a gifted preschooler, look for a curriculum that gives a foundation in the basics, while allowing her to work at her own pace -- often more quickly than her same-age peers.


The Math-U-See program incorporates a written curriculum with hands-on manipulative activities to help your child visualize mathematical concepts. It starts with counting and number recognition and eventually progresses to math functions with fractions and decimals. It follows the "Common Core" curriculum designed by the government, so you can feel confident that your child is learning everything he needs to learn. Initially, he can take a test to find out where his current level is, which is ideal because you don't want him to have to trod through the basics just to get to the good stuff.

Montessori Math

The Montessori method uses a variety of hands-on and visual activities to teach mathematical concepts. From the age of 3 or 4, children start to learn about algebraic formulas, math functions, squaring and cubing, though the real knowledge doesn't come until the elementary years. Montessori methods also introduce geometry from a young age. A Montessori school will have all the necessary supplies, as well as trained teachers, but you can also purchase a guide and supplies to try it yourself at home.


The RightStart program uses a tool called the "AL Abacus" to help students visualize mathematical concepts. Rather than counting, students learn to visualize what numbers mean. There are also card games to help reinforce ideas. Dr. Joan A. Cotter, a Montessori-certified teacher, is the expert who developed the system, so you'll find that it incorporates Montessori concepts into the curriculum.

DreamBox Learning

DreamBox Learning is an interactive software tool that uses games to teach math. Your little one must go through the "adventure park," playing math games to collect rewards. Its adaptive technology learns where your child is and advances her through material that's easy while repeating activities that are more difficult. Children may not even realize they're learning when playing DreamBox.

About the Author

Maggie McCormick is a freelance writer. She lived in Japan for three years teaching preschool to young children and currently lives in Honolulu with her family. She received a B.A. in women's studies from Wellesley College.

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