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Your toddler lines up his toy cars and organizes his stuffed animals.

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He grooves to the beat of his favorite music and follows his daily schedule. These actions may not seem like math, but they are, indeed, the early stages of his mathematical development! The good news is that one-year-old math skill building looks like just having a lot of fun.

Your 1-Year-Old

As he continues to make sense of his world, he’s learning the basics of numbers, geometry and measurement. His best knowledge comes through play and adult interaction — from participating in hide-and-seek to requesting more crackers at snack time. Snacks today…calculus tomorrow!

  • I’m Learning to Count!

    “1…2…3…5…”. Although your toddler might not always get it exactly right, she’s learning about numbers and counting. Have you noticed her lining up the crackers on her tray or breaking a whole one into smaller parts? She’s learning about numbers — how to recognize and use them — about more and less. Meal and play time may be fun, but they’re also great times for learning!

    Look for Signs of Learning at Your Child's Care

    Listen for the teachers and children counting out loud together. Look around for numbers posted throughout the classroom…on the walls and on written materials.

  • Give Me a Beat!

    Does your baby tap his toes to the beat? Clap along to his favorite song? He’s enjoying the music, but he’s also learning about rhythm — an early mathematical patterning skill. Yep, pattern learning disguised as toddler fun! When he’s done dancing, give him a group of objects. Then, ask him to hand one back. More and more, he should understand what you want from him and comply (as long as he’s feeling generous)!

    Look for Signs of Learning at Your Child's Care

    Check out the conversations happening between the teachers and children. Are they using terms such as more, less, this many and that many? Notice whether teachers are pointing out and explaining everyday patterns — in routines, in the classroom and in nature.

  • I Can Identify Many Things!

    Where is the teddy bear’s nose? Your toddler can tell you! She’s beginning to understand that her beloved bear is made up of many smaller pieces — eyes, ears, nose, arms, legs. It may not seem like a big math achievement just yet, but she’s honing her data analysis skills…via her teddy bear!

    Look for Signs of Learning at Your Child's Care

    Do classroom materials give teachers the chance to use comparative language? For example, teachers should be able to point out differences in size, color and shape. Listen for comparing words including "bigger" and "smaller," "round" and "square" or "blue" and "orange."

  • Different Shapes and Sizes Fascinate Me

    Give your toddler a set of wooden building blocks and watch him shine. Would you prefer a house or a castle? He’ll build one for you! He’s starting to grasp the concept of combining different things to make new things. Plus, he’s able to match identical simple shapes during play. Watch as he hides behind and between objects to keep you guessing and giggling. He’s learning about spatial relations…and entertaining himself at the same time!

    Look for Signs of Learning at Your Child's Care

    Check out the toys. You want to see a variety of puzzles, stacking cups and pieces to count or sort. Make sure teachers help children to play with these toys. When a teacher encourages a child to turn a puzzle piece and try again or to help stack nesting cups with another child, children learn about math.

  • I’m Sooooo Big!

    Ask your toddler how big she is. Then, watch her throw her arms up in the air with an exclamation of “sooooo big!” Listen as she tells you her peas are “too hot!” She’s also learning about time and how it fits into her world. She understands and expects the daily schedule you’ve established for her — breakfast, play, lunch, nap, dinner, bath, bedtime. And when she’s feeling cooperative, she might even willingly take part in each step!

    Look for Signs of Learning at Your Child's Care

    Look for a picture schedule that helps children understand their routines (like using the restroom) and transitions (like lunchtime). Notice whether the teachers use descriptive words for new experiences to help expand learning. Those words build math vocabulary!

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