Skip to main content
The Brighter Futures Indiana Data Center offers data related to population, economy, supply and demand.

Data Center

The Brighter Futures Indiana Data Center offers data related to population, economy, supply and demand.

Visit our Data Center
Brighter Futures Logo


Maybe your child knows what number comes after 19.

Square 16

Maybe he doesn’t. Soon enough he’ll be counting to 100, 1000, and beyond. The spirit of math isn’t about memorizing formulas or being able to recite a list: It’s using the curiosity found in every kid to reveal how lots of things in this world fall into an understandable order.

Your Pre-Kindergartener

Being able to make sense of ideas like bigger and smaller, longer and shorter, and even earlier and later is the beginning of knowing – and liking – mathematics throughout life.

When we ourselves were younger, we may have had math “drilled” into us. As a result, some adults name Math as their least-favorite subject. That’s because a drill doesn’t work nearly as well as a positive approach. (Good timing helps, too.)

The most important thing you can bring your child in this area now is not a list of facts, but a way of thinking: The belief that math really can be interesting, useful and even fun.

It’s also great to watch for opportunities to talk about math in regular, everyday moments – your kid may be happy to talk about how a dinosaur’s size compares to that of a hamster or how his school bus is way bigger than a car.

  • I Know My Numbers

    Which is bigger: 6 or 7? Knowing the answer will happen without thinking for your child later, but for now it may take her a moment. It’s worth the time, though… Seeing why 4 comes “before” 5 is a foundation for lots of tasks she’ll take on later – from shopping in a market to knowing when it opens!

    Look for Signs of Learning at Your Child's Care

    Children should have the chance to learn about numbers in lots of ways! Look for learning centers labeled with group size limits and counting toys like beads, blocks and animals. Wall calendars can also be useful, especially if teachers talk about them and count days with the kids.

  • I See A Pattern Here

    “2+2” may seem simple to you, but it’s actually a new idea for your child. You can help him really see how it works with everyday objects. Cookies are always popular. Also, watch for him to pick up on patterns. This could be as basic as clapping once, then twice, then once again. Ideally, he even sees how to keep the pattern going!

    Look for Signs of Learning at Your Child's Care

    Picture schedules -- that have photos or drawings of children eating, washing hands, playing outside and the like -- help children learn their daily routines. Children should also have lots of chances to make patterns with shapes, magnets or blocks, and explore repetition through books.

  • This One Goes With These Ones

    “Everyone line up, tallest to shortest.” “All students who need lefty scissors, please come to the supplies area.” Being able to group and order things by their characteristics is really handy. Your child may also be venturing into drawing a simple graph of the groups she knows – for example, of how many birds she sees.

    Look for Signs of Learning at Your Child's Care

    During clean up time, children should get to put items and toys into the "right" container or spot. Children can also explore grouping themselves -- sorting themselves by pant color or favorite vegetable -- or making charts about what toys they like best.

  • I Know That Shape

    Is that plane above the clouds? Or below it? Look, now it’s inside one! Your child is strengthening his understanding of how things relate to each other in space. And, as he gets better at telling a 2-D shape from a 3-D one, he’s on his way to seeing how they fit together to make things – like airplanes.

    Look for Signs of Learning at Your Child's Care

    Shapes, shapes everywhere! Are there squares, triangles, circles, hearts and more throughout the classroom? Listen for teachers to ask children to find and name them to encourage their math word skills!

  • I Can Wait Till Later

    All parents (and kids) know: “Maybe later” is just another way to say “probably not.” But as your child gets a firmer grasp on the idea of time, don’t be surprised if she starts remembering what you said and holding you to your semi-promises!

    Look for Signs of Learning at Your Child's Care

    Do children get the chance to learn more about measuring? Books like "Brown Bear" and "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" or tools like measuring tapes and rulers are great signs. Listen for comparison words like "big / small" or "short / tall" as teachers and children chat.

Ideas to Learn and Play Together!

From bedtime to playtime your child is always learning. Check out these family-time ideas for building their skills -- and your family connections. All children learn and grow at their own pace and in their own way. For more information about the skills and milestones for your child's age check out our developmental milestones resource page. If you continue to have concerns or questions please give us a call at 1-800-299-1627.

  • How Many Are There?

    Build number skills before family meals. Ask your child to help you set the table for dinner. “I have five forks. But there are only four seats at the table. Can you put a fork at each place? How many forks do you have left?” Count together if a question feels challenging!

  • The Wonderful World of Math

    “The sign says each bag has five avocados. Let’s count them.” Point to numbers in your world. Recognizing numbers from one to ten is part of the normal development for this age. It’s also a skill needed in kindergarten to build toward bigger math skills. At the store, on the road and at home, share how you use numbers to help your child understand why they matter.

  • 1-2-3-4-5!

    Make a game out of counting and comparing numbers! Understanding numbers and amounts can feel magical to your child. Celebrate counting successes: “You can count to 20! NO WAY!” Encourage comparison alongside counting: “How many rocks did you collect? Fifteen rocks! That means you have more rocks than toes.” The more you play with numbers, the stronger math skills become.

Related Articles

View All