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Kindergarten Math

If you’re looking for ways to support your public or private school kindergartner in learning math, or formulating your own homeschool math curriculum, you’ll find useful information in this article. Read on to learn about all the different elements of kindergarten math.

What Is Kindergarten Math?

The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), besides promulgating national standards for math curriculum, also provide explicit overviews for each level, with Prekindergarten through Grade 2 being available here:

In addition, NCTM includes focal points for each level. In their kindergarten focal points, they include only three of the ten standards: Numbers and Operations, Geometry, and Measurement, with three connections: Data Analysis, Geometry, and Algebra. Let’s look at what this means in practice.

Numbers and Operations in Kindergarten Math

The focal points mention “representing, comparing, and ordering whole numbers and joining and separating sets.”

  • Representing whole numbers means that students can write numerals as well as show quantities. You can help your child practice by having them help you write a shopping list that has quantities of items (3 oranges, 2 lemons) and then to get the proper amount of each item at the store.
  • Comparing whole numbers means that children can distinguish if numerals and numbers of items are the same, and if not, which is less and which is more. You can help you child practice by playing card games like War, which call for constant comparison, and by introducing your child to comparison shopping at the store.
  • Ordering whole numbers means that children understand counting order and can put numbers into sequence, both forwards and backwards. You can help your child practice by teaching him or her counting rhymes and singing counting songs, such as “The Ants Go Marching.” You can play board games that show numbers in sequence, such as “Chutes and Ladders” and card games in which the cards are used in sequence, up and down, as they are in many solitaire games.
  • Joining and separating sets means that children can recognize how things can be categorized by various attributes. You can help your child build this understanding by playing card games such as Crazy Eights and Uno in which you must match the color/suit or the number/rank of the card dealt, or SET, in which sets are explicitly the point of the game.

Geometry in Kindergarten Math

The focal points mention “describing shapes and space.” You can help your child practice these skills by making available building blocks and pattern blocks with different shapes, and helping your child learn the names of them. Extend this, by challenging your child to build with nothing but rectangles and hexagons, or nothing but cylinders. You can also make a scale model of the child’s room and furniture, and work out possible new arrangements, using appropriate vocabulary for 2-D and 3-D shapes, as you try out different plans.

Measurement in Kindergarten Math

The focal points mention “ordering objects by measurable attributes.” You can help you child practice this by providing a variety of measuring instruments in realms such as cooking, woodwork, and household tasks, as well as a household scale, and helping the child to use the teaspoons, measuring cups, ruler, yardstick, protractor, or other tool to find the measurement. Once the child can measure, you can introduce comparison of two objects, and then sequencing of three or more objects. You can also encourage visual determination of longer and shorter, more and less. By keeping height charts, on a doorframe or a stick of wood, you can also show measurement in a personal way.

Data Analysis in Kindergarten Math

In this connection to the focal points, there is the suggestion to collect data to answer questions. You can help your child practice by posing questions that he or she can answer, including questions that require one or more of the skills mentioned above. For example: Who in our family needs more winter socks? could involve counting each family members socks and determining how often the family laundry is done.

This area also includes sorting objects using new attributes. You could help your child practice by asking them to rearrange the kitchen cabinets by separating cans from boxes for more efficient storage or by grouping all ingredients used for baking in one place.

Applied Geometry in Kindergarten Math

In this connection to the focal points, there is the suggestion that children be able to integrate understandings in the area of geometry, measurement, and number, and apply them in navigational directions. You can help your child practice by playing Simon Says using expanded navigation directions (e.g., Simon says, take 2 small steps and turn left.).

Algebra in Kindergarten Math

In this final connection to the focal points, there is a focus on identifying, duplicating, and extending number and shape patterns. You can help your child practice by identifying patterns in pictures of architectural elements that have, for example meanders and other repeating patterns. You could also make patterns of blocks or pattern blocks, and have your child duplicate, repeat, or extend them. Then switch roles, and have your child be the pattern creator.


National Council of Teacher of Mathematics Curriculum Focal Points: Kindergarten -