The American Academy of Pediatrics states that, between 36 and 48 months of age, children start developing their conceptual reasoning skills. These set is crucial for categorizing the information they get from the world, and for organizing it according to the characteristics of every object.
A big part of conceptual reasoning involves understanding the implicit mathematical ideas behind the differences, similitudes and relationships of more vs less. Around this age, your child is working hard at understanding the concepts of size (big vs small), distance (close vs far), speed (fast vs slow), height (high vs low), weight (heavy vs light) and order (first vs last). Apart from pointing out these characteristics, so that your child starts noticing them, it’s important to support his understanding of the numerical concepts organizing these ideas.
Here are some tips and ideas on how to use implicit math concepts when talking about your day or describing something you are seeing:
- Point out numbers you see in your everyday life, like those on your cellphone, clock, addresses, on signs on the street, etc.
- Count steps, houses, trees, etc.
- Use a grow chart to mark your kid’s height and describe what you are doing and how, as he grows, the numbers goes bigger as well.
- When cooking or baking, have your son help with simple tasks like filling and mixing with close supervision, while describing how you are measuring and what is the order you follow when adding the ingredients.
- Talk about activities that happen at certain moments of the day, like “when its dark outside we eat dinner and then we go to bed”, to help develop your child’s sense of time and of progression.
- Play games that encourage noticing shapes, colors and sizes, like “I Spy”.
- Have differently shaped foods for a meal and notice together how the shape of the square crackers are different from those of the banana slices, or the string cheese, etc.