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What are some important concepts for teaching math to young children?

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Number sense, spatial reasoning, measuring, organizing data and identifying patterns are some of the basic math concepts children must learn to understand higher-level math concepts, such as algebra and statistics. Children often begin learning these important concepts through their daily routines and parent- or teacher-led play activities as early as infancy, and they strengthen these skills throughout elementary school.

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Number sense is a common concept taught in childcare settings at all age levels. Number recognition, counting and relationships between numbers are significant number sense skills that children need to learn basic math operations such as addition and subtraction.

Young children learn geometry concepts and spatial reasoning skills through activities that incorporate shapes, size comparisons, direction and positions such as third or under. Infants and toddlers are often introduced to these concepts through nesting toys, shape sorters and conversations with caregivers. Obstacle courses, art activities and worksheets are options for preschoolers.

The concept of measurement is often introduced through observations and comparisons before young children learn to use measuring tools. Cooking activities, height-and-weight checks and pretend money are ideas that help teach this important math concept.

Collecting information, organizing data and recognizing patterns are fundamental skills for effective problem solving. Young children usually begin learning these concepts as they observe their environments, especially while under the supervision of attentive caregivers. Crafts, sorting activities and collections, as well as activities that involve reading or music, help children strengthen these skills.

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