First Grade, the Year to “See” Math!
Visualization, concrete imagery and hands on activities; that’s how to get a first grader to understand math! Every child is unique in the way that they learn best. But all children when they are first learning a new skill require explanations they understand. To tell a child that one plus one equals two means very little to them besides their memorizing what you have said. To show them using objects, similar to, one apple plus one apple equals two apples will instill a very visual understanding of the math equation.
A great incentive to learning math is food. Have a child sit with cereal at the table sorting by color or shape (a kindergarten skill), counting those piles (depending on the amount in each pile a kindergarten or first grade skill) and using them to solve math problems given to them such as addition or subtraction to 99(a first grade skill). Ask the child, “What is five minus three?” The child will then count out the five pieces of round yummy cereal and then eat three of them. How many do they have left? There is their answer in a great wholesome lip-smacking visual way.
If food isn’t your can of worms, try other small objects that the child can hold. These can be coins from the sofa or leaves from the compost pile in the backyard. Addition and subtraction problems can be given while in the comfort of home at the kitchen table with macaronis from the pantry; or while at a restaurant waiting on the food to come, using the sugar packets which are conveniently placed on the table for this activity. Math can be solved anywhere and is everywhere.
Math in first grade is the foundation to the building blocks that will make or break their mathematical academic tower. If a child is unable to formulate and analyze in first grade, they may still be able to catch up later, but will most likely be missing some of the key components that would make their foundation strong enough for the information they will learn in the upcoming years. It is the responsibility of those who work with the child to build this foundation to help them “see” the math before it becomes more difficult and abstract in the higher grades. If they are able to understand math when it can be visualized and manipulated it will help them understand math when it is more intricate in its composition.