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Building math skills should start early

10/14/2013, 6 a.m.

According to a recent study of middle school students conducted by the University of Missouri, children who lagged behind their peers in a test of core math skills needed to function as adults were the same kids who also showed the least number sense or fluency when they started first grade. According to Richard Peterson, vice president of education for Kiddie Academy® Child Care Learning Centers, this is further proof of the importance of an education-based preschool program.

“Math skills are an important part of Kiddie Academy's Life Essentials® curriculum, designed to prepare your child for lifelong success,” said Peterson. “Most preschoolers are naturally interested in math as it exists in the world around them. The basic math skills our teachers provide the children at Kiddie Academy set the building blocks for their entire academic and professional careers. Understanding numbers, sequencing and comparing and contrasting sets of objects are all components of building your child's math skills. Beginning as young as a year old, children can explore number concepts. That doesn’t mean taking out the calculator during playtime. In fact, they often learn best by engaging in hands-on games and projects. As your children grow, you can reinforce the importance of math and point out examples of math concepts in your daily routine.”

Here are a few math activities to try at home:

*Count the members of your family, the number of houses on your street, the plates on the dinner table. As your child's number confidence grows, increase the number of things counted.

*Play simple addition and subtraction games. What happens when you have two shoes and you take one away? How many shoes are left? What if you take your fingers from your left hand and add them to the fingers on your right hand? How many do you have altogether?

*Point out numbers you see in your world. From road signs to cereal boxes, numbers are everywhere!

*Use manipulatives to demonstrate number concepts. Naturally, you'll need to steer clear of choking hazards. However with supervision, crayons, blocks, candy or any easily manipulated objects can give children practice they need counting, adding, subtracting and even multiplying. Many children are visual learners, and it helps for them to physically manipulate small objects that they can take away, add or simply count.

*Cooking together is a great way to illustrate fractions. Measuring ingredients provides a visual example of fractions at work.

Kiddie Academy® is a leader in education-based child care, offering full and part-time care, before and after-school care and summer camp programs to families and their children. For more information, visit: www.kiddieacademy.com.