Mathematics Assessment Strategies in Early Childhood

Instructor: Yuanxin (Amy) Yang Alcocer

Amy has a master's degree in secondary education and has taught math at a public charter high school.

Math isn't just a school topic; it's actually a skill that children begin learning about soon after they begin talking. Learn what assessment strategies you can use to see how well your children are grasping their early math skills in this lesson.

The Preschool Years

You may think that math is just a topic for school, but in reality, you began learning math at a very young age, even before you started school. You may not remember those years, your early childhood years, before you started school. But that's when you started to learn about numbers, counting, and size. And that's where math begins.

For preschool teachers, assessing these early math skills is important. If children aren't able to understand these concepts before they start school, then they'll have difficulty progressing in school. Some of the math skills that young children aged 3 and 4 should know are the following:

  • Can count to five
  • Can count on a number line
  • Recognizes the numerals 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 (i.e. 2 stands for two birds)
  • Can add and subtract small numbers (i.e. one plus one cookie equals two cookies!)
  • Can count from one to ten in correct order
  • Can place the numerals 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 in proper order
  • Uses size words to describe larger, smaller objects and to ask for more or less of something

Keep on reading, and you'll learn various assessments you can use to check whether your children are understanding their early math. An assessment is a check or evaluation of someone's skills. There are various ways to make your assessment, as you'll see.

Numbers Assessments

To assess a young child's understanding of numbers, you'll need to check to see if the child recognizes numbers and can correctly correlate a number with its respective amount of items. For example, if you show the child a number 2, will the child be able to gather or point to a pair of items, like a pair of shoes or a pair of pencils? If not, then the child needs more exposure to those numbers.

Don't think of assessments as sitting down and taking a test thing. No, assessments can happen as you are working or playing together. For example, you can perform an assessment as you are playing a numbers game. As you roll the dice, you can ask the child what number that is and how many steps that equals. If the child has trouble answering, then you'll know that perhaps the child needs a little assistance in that area.

Counting Assessments

To assess counting, you can ask the child to count a group of objects. You'll be able to see and hear how much understanding the child has of counting numbers.

This can also be done while reading a picture book and asking the child to count various things mentioned in the pictures.

Another thing you can do with your group of objects, such as a group of marbles, is to assess a child's basic addition and subtraction skills. If you begin with 4 marbles, you can ask the child what happens when you add 1 marble. How many marbles do you have now? Then take away two marbles and ask the child how many marbles are left after that. If marbles don't capture the child's attention, then maybe cookies will.

Size Assessments

To assess size, you can ask the child various questions about the objects around him. You can compare the child's height to yours and ask who is bigger? Again, you can also use cookies, one small and one large cookie to ask the child which is bigger and which is smaller.

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