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Key math learning milestones for kids aged 4–8

Unlike amusement park rides, your child doesn’t have to be a certain height to safely enjoy math. But, there are age-appropriate math milestones that you should be aware of—especially during those early developmental years between the ages of 4 and 8.

According to both the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), a positive attitude toward math and a strong foundation for math learning begin in early childhood. In fact, both organizations cite a growing body of research on children’s capacities and learning in the first six years of life that support the theory that early experiences have long-lasting outcomes. In short, when it comes to kids, you should math early and math often.

Once you understand what your child is capable of, there are things you can do at home to help nurture their development of early math skills. DreamBox recently updated its printable Math Development Growth Chart for children ages 4-8. On it, you’ll find a list of math milestones by age, and practical activities you can do with your child at each interval to support their learning and help them to build lifelong confidence in math.

If you’re looking for more ideas, there are plenty of books on the topic, and free resources available online. Gryphon House’s collection of math activities for toddlers, infants, and preschoolers offers a particularly good variety of ways to making learning basic math principles fun for kids of all ages. The library of activities was created by award-winning authors and features everything from Peanut Weighing for preschoolers to Developing Problem Solving and Reasoning Skills with STEM.

The PBS Parents website is another rich resource for tips on how you can make math a part of your kids’ everyday experiences. You’ll also find answers and advice for supporting your child in mathematics at every stage of development from infancy through second grade.

Finally, if you’ve got seven minutes to listen to the last episode of The Math Dude’s Quick and Dirty Tips podcast you’ll find all the inspiration and incentive you need to expose your child to the wonders of mathematical thinking. While watching his three-year-old daughter navigate the “mermaid castle” at the playground, Jason Marshall has a revelation about learning how to play with math. It’s worth the seven minutes, and you’ll never look at math, the playground, or your kids the same way again. Enjoy!

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