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Developing a strong mathematical foundation

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Creating a love of math helps children as they grow and begin to learn more complicated math problems. Building a strong foundation of math can help the child better understand more complex concepts. Being able to understand these principals will help the child learn, regardless of whether or not he/she chooses to go into a math or science based occupation.

Here are some ideas to help young children develop a strong mathematical foundation.

Allow children to explore on their own and help them make discoveries. Don't spoon feed them all the information, allow them to find answers based on trial and error. Given a hands on approach, the child is more likely to retain the information and be able to apply the knowledge in other areas.

Playing with puzzles helps build up a child's mathematical foundation. Introduce puzzles early in a child's life. Allow him/her to be frustrated. Help, but allow time for the child to make discoveries on his/her own. However, it is important not to let the child's frustration level get to high where he/she totally gives up. Encourage and help the child to do his/her best.

Play memory games also strengthen a child's mathematical brain muscles. Start with just a few (5 pairs) and as the child grows and develops, add more, until you can use all of the cards.

Practice counting. Counting aloud allows young children hear good examples of counting. Reading counting books also helps children learn to count. Count the objects on the pages together. Point at the numbers and tell the child what the number is. As the child grows, ask him/her to tell you the number. Keep practicing together.

Discuss the size relationship of objects. Ask the child which one is bigger or which one is smaller. Ask him/her to explain how he/she came up with the answer. Play with shapes at an early age. Call the shapes by their correct name. Discuss the features of the shapes. As they grow, they will remember and will be able to build upon that early foundation.

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