The 4 Major Math Concepts Your Kids Learn in PreK & Kindergarten

These streamlined topics will give you the leg up to (finally!) understand what your youngsters are learning in math.
By Jennifer Hogan
Mar 29, 2016



The 4 Major Math Concepts Your Kids Learn in PreK & Kindergarten

Mar 29, 2016

There are so many different topics our children learn throughout the year, just keeping up with each night’s new piece of homework and its latest ideas can feel very overwhelming. As parents, we don’t get to see the major idea behind the “everyday” work and it can be frustrating to understand where each skill is going. In this first blog post of a continuing series, I will be highlighting the major math concepts that are taught at the different grade levels so we, as parents, can help to build and support these ideas at home.

Here are the four major math concepts taught in pre-kindergarten and kindergarten, along with exercises you can practice with your children to help reinforce their learning.

1. Counting. Students are beginning their experience with numbers through counting, number names and written numerals. Students are learning to count objects and understand a one-to-one correspondence. They are also starting to compare different sets of objects and use appropriate language.

Encourage your child to:

  • Touch different objects and count out loud.
  • Move objects from one group to another.
  • Count a set of objects and “see” or “write” that corresponding number.
  • Start to use comparing words: more than, less than, the same as.

2. Addition & Subtraction. This is the very early stage of adding and subtracting. The focus should be on developing an understanding of addition as “putting together and adding to,” and subtracting as “taking apart and taking from.” Students do not need to write equations at this young an age, but are encouraged to begin using them.

Encourage your child to:

  • Tell stories about adding and subtracting. For example, for addition: Two bunnies sat on the grass. Three more bunnies hopped there. How many bunnies are on the grass now? For subtraction: Five apples were on the table. I ate two apples. How many apples are on the table now? Draw pictures about putting together and taking apart.
  • Count to 10 and break apart numbers (decompose – math’s fancy word for “breaking apart”) into different combinations. For example, 5 can be seen as:

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3. Measurement & Data. Young children are beginning to describe and compare their physical world. They are starting to classify, sort and group objects into categories.

Encourage your children to:

  • Compare two different objects using appropriate language. For example:
    “John is taller than Sarah.”
    “This tree is shorter than that tree.”
    “My bag is heavier than your bag.”
  • Sort objects by color, size, material, etc.
  • Describe their physical world with directional words: in front of, behind, on top of, next to, below, etc.

4. Geometry. Students are starting to look at and compare two-dimensional (flat) and three-dimensional (solid) shapes. They are using appropriate language to recognize different shapes and talk about their attributes.

Encourage your child to:

  • Find 2-D shapes in the world: squares, circles, triangles, rectangles, and hexagons.
  • Find 3-D shapes in the world: cubes, cones, cylinders, and spheres.
  • Count the different number of sides, vertices, angles, etc.Model different shapes using clay, sticks, pipe-cleaners, etc.

See all blog posts in this series for information on what your child will learn in math class from preschool all the up through 8th grade. 

The Learning Toolkit Blog
Age 6
Age 5
Age 4
Age 3
Counting and Numbers
Addition and Subtraction