Next up in our summer blog post series – Megan Wildenradt, Zeno’s Director of Development and Communications, shares about how she’s introducing math to her son, Leo.
Math fun with a 15 month old? You bet! In trying to build a positive math environment at home for Leo, I’ve found that it’s best not to over think it or to get caught up asking, “Am I doing this right?” Instead I focus on finding simple engaging materials that are usually right in front of us from the kitchen table to the park. To quote, Diane Kroll, I’m trying to ‘light up those neurons” and engage my little guy with the world around him. We count anything and everything, we compare who has more or less of food items, how tall or short we are, we use positional words like “in” or “on top” when cleaning up…we find math in everything that we do!
Through this I’ve discovered that my dog is truly my very best friend. We throw the ball over and over again to Ruby and talk about how far we can throw, the shape of the ball, different sizes, how high it will bounce and if we can ever get Ruby to actually drop the ball. I found giant foam dice at the store the other day that I keep in his toy box. He loves throwing them in the air and looking at the bright colors and eventually we’ll be able to talk about the number of dots on each side which will allow us to start playing all sorts of games that require counting, comparing, and other foundational math concepts! And when all else fails, music is always a win. He dances, pounds his drum, bangs on his xylophone and moves to the beat. It’s fun to sing songs fast or slow which allows him to understand patterns and cause and effect.
My top toys of the moment are stacking cups! The Kidoozie Stack ‘n Sort is a gem and provides hours of joy. At 15 months, Leo is mostly interested in knocking the tower of cups down and feeling quite proud of himself when he can stack something ‘on’ the tower. This toy allows for a variety of math vocabulary such as top, bottom, big, small, in, out and so on. The set also comes with a bucket and shape sorter which is great for early shape recognition.
Whether you’re counting the buses that drive by or tracing the shape of a leaf with your little ones, keep it up! Positive math experiences early in a child’s life matter and provide the foundation necessary to fire those neurons and prepare them for success in school and beyond!