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Introducing Basic Concepts to Kids

Jun 13, 2018 by

There are some basic concepts that every child learns in elementary school. These include reading, writing, telling time, and counting money. And as the old adage goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Meaning, there are some classic ways to teach students these skills that are proven effective. That doesn’t mean you can’t stray from these techniques, but if you’re looking for a jumping off point, you’ll find it here!

Introducing the Concept of Money

There are a variety of ways to teach children about money and like most math concepts, memorization plays an important role. Once your child identifies the visual look of each coin, you can introduce the numeric amounts to them. Meaning the small copper pennies equal one cent and the small silver coins (dimes) are 10 cents. It will take time and practice but start by familiarizing your child with the look and size of each coin, the names, and then the quantities. Paper money is a little easier given the numbers are written clearly on each bill. A one dollar bill shows the number 1, a five dollar bills shows the 5, and so on. Using stickers that are made with realistic colors and pictures is a great way to get kids interested in money. Place a cash register in your dramatic play area where students can practice adding, counting, and identifying money. You can also create piggy banks and discuss the concept of saving money and what things cost.

Introducing the Concept of Time

This is another tricky but necessary math concept that most children learn around the age of six or seven. With so many digital clocks and time displayed on tablets, cell phones, and computers, telling time using an analog clock is a dying art but it’s one that all children should learn. That means understanding the concept of the hour, minute, and second hands.

Start off teaching the concept that every hour is made up of 60 seconds. Pull out a sample of a clock. Show the child that each mark around the outside signifies one second for the second hand and one minute for the minute hand. The hour hand is relatively easy for them to understand. Next, break down the numbers around the clock that run from 1 to 12. Each large number represents 5 minutes. That means that when the minute hand is on the 1 it is 5 minutes past the hour, not one minute. Every child will be inclined to shout “It’s 9:01” when, in fact, it’s 9:05. Be patient. It will take them some time (no pun intended) to remember that those big numbers aren’t what they seem and that instead, they each represent 5 minute intervals.

Introducing Reading

We all know the silly, but accurate, catchphrase – reading is FUNdamental. And it is! Students will need reading throughout their entire school careers and beyond. Not only is reading a necessary skill that crosses all subjects of learning and facets of life but it can also be a lot of fun and a great alternative to electronics for entertainment. There’s no perfect age to introduce children to reading. Parents can start by reading to their children from birth (or before). This simply helps build the foundation for a child’s language and love of reading moving forward. Giving infants and toddlers books to play with explore familiarizes them with the concept of reading from left to right, turning pages, and using pictures for clues about the story.

Once a child reaches the age of three or four, you can begin introducing sight words to them. These are words that are extremely common and ones that your child will encounter repeatedly during their journey to reading fluently. Like with math concepts, memorizing the sight of these words will help students string together full sentences more fluidly. Another great way to introduce reading and a familiarity with words and concepts is to label as many items and pictures in your classroom as possible. Children will begin to associate the letters with the pictures. For example, label the classroom door with the letters “d-o-o-r”. Over time, the student will recognize this word on the page and associate it with the related object.

Introducing Writing

There is some debate over when is too soon to introduce a child to writing. This is due in part to a child’s pencil grip and their ability to hold a writing utensil properly. There are actually different stages of pencil grip that begin in the toddler years up to full development between the ages of 4 and 6. The last stage of grip is known as dynamic tripod grasp where a child’s fingers will move independently and they will be able to perform precise writing and drawing. You can introduce letter formation at an even younger age through a variety of other means. Children can shape letters using clay, string, paint, and chalk. Stock your literacy centers with different materials for students to explore. Add notepads to your dramatic play center and let children write freely using their imagination. They can pretend to be waiters in a restaurant, office workers or teachers. The first letters a child should learn are the ones in their first name. They will need to write this name throughout their school career. Recognizing and forming these letters first will help students feel an ownership over the learning process and pride in learning their names.

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