Kindergarten can be a fun, exciting and important time for both kids and parents. It’s also a crucial step in kids learning, getting them used to the routine of school and giving kids their first
In recent years, we’ve learned that when it comes to math in particular, the earlier you get started the better.
Studies have shown that early intervention in math can lay the foundation for math learning, developing key skills and knowledge, as well as set important, positive perceptions of math for the future.
If you’re teaching math at home as part of your homeschooling or as enrichment, finding the right curriculum and way of teaching is often critical and can, more often than not, make the difference in providing a fun and solid introduction to math concepts.
But teaching math to kindergarteners isn’t always all that easy. Knowing where to begin and how to maintain a 5 year old’s interest and attention can be challenging, even for experienced homeschoolers and teachers.
To help, we put together our ideas on what an at home Kindergarten curriculum should cover, challenges to look out for, as well as some helpful ideas for teaching math concepts effectively.
We’ve also included a list of some of the better apps and programs out there whose full math curriculums and engaging technologies can make teaching Kindergarten math at home a little bit easier on parents.
What to look for when picking a Kindergarten Math Curriculum
Obviously there’s no perfect homeschool math curriculum for everyone. If there was, picking the right one would be quite simple.
In the end, you will have to evaluate each curriculum option on the basis of your needs and your student.
Depending on the math curriculum in question, prices can vary pretty widely. Some may include textbooks, workbooks, DVD instructions, digital access or other supplements that can make things a bit more pricey but give you access to more effective multisensory practice and review.
This may be particularly true with Kindergarten and lower age group math instruction, as math curriculum packages may include games, toys and other activities to help keep young kids engaged.
Ultimately, the question boils down to your individual budget and your student.
Your educational philosophy
Regardless of how well a curriculum covers Kindergarten math, ultimately it has to fit into the way you prefer teaching, whether that’s traditional, classical, Eclectic, Charlotte Mason or unschooling.
Luckily, in this day and age, finding a homeschool math curriculum you are most comfortable with is easier than ever and usually just requires a little Googling.
Your Child’s Readiness and Skill Level
Any math curriculum will obviously also have to fit how your child is reacting to the more formal education that Kindergarten entails.
At this age, some kids have a harder time adapting to more formal worksheets and drill, while others may get too distracted if the learning is too freeform and creative.
Similarly, pace is important. Some kids may be a bit more advanced or have an inclination to numbers and math, in which case to avoid boredom you might need a curriculum designed for gifted students that goes a bit deeper and offers more challenging exercises.
Another thing to consider is whether you wish to follow Common Core math standards or not. There are common core standards for Kindergarten math, and the choice for parents is often an individual one.
Most homeschool math curricula choose not to follow common core or do so only partially, so if this is something that you want for your child you may have to do a little more searching.
What topics should be covered in a Kindergarten Math Curriculum?
When it comes to teaching math at the kindergarten level, the focus should primarily be on the basic concepts of math. The idea is really to build a strong foundation in math, and so most math curricula at this level focus on things like:
Counting and Cardinality
- Number recognition and comparison
- Counting by 10s
- Skip Counting
- Sequencing and counting up to 100
- Recognizing and defining addition as putting together
- Recognizing notation
- Basic summation of single digit numbers
- Recognizing subtraction as removing, taking apart or taking away
- Recognizing notation
- Basic subtraction of single digit numbers
Geometry and Shapes
- Recognizing, identifying shapes
- Comparing, creating shapes
- Counting corners
- Patterns (Color, shape, size)
- Measuring using objects
- Comparing objects (weight, size, etc)
- Introducing number lines
Logic and Applications
- Clocks and Time (reading, writing – analog and digital)
- AM/PM, days, weeks, months
- Ordering and classifying (same, different, classifying/sorting)
What challenges are there in teaching very young kids math?
Young kids are tons of fun but they have their own challenges when it comes to teaching them complex and abstract subjects like math.
Even experienced and professional teachers run into trouble when approaching the subject.
Young kids can be energetic, easily distracted and easily bored
Kindergarteners being, well, kindergarteners means it can sometimes be hard to get them to focus and make learning engaging to them.
The math material has to attract and maintain the interest of a young child and lessons have to be configured for their rather short attention span and ability to process new information.
That means lessons have to be kept short and when learning is more active with features that grab the attention of young kids, such as toys, games, bright colors and animations.
It is a delicate balance, however, as kids can also be distracted from the “boring math stuff” by the very features designed to pique their interest.
Young kids may have little frame of reference to contextualize their learning
One thing that often helps kids understand complex topics is to make the material relevant to them. Linking concepts to real life and being able to connect it to other ideas can make learning more meaningful and makes it less likely that kids will tune out.
4 and 5 year olds don’t often have a wide base of knowledge to draw from and it can sometimes be an exercise in creativity to relate concepts to things they know.
Often starting from zero knowledge
Unlike students in higher grade levels, kids in kindergarten are just starting to learn to read. It’s perfectly normal for them to still have recognition issues with the alphabet and so normal worksheets and learning material may not be the most effective way of approaching learning.
Explanations and practice may require less text or writing and more multisensory practice and instruction, which can be a little trickier for parents who aren’t used to it.
Online Learning Platforms with Complete Kindergarten Math Curricula
Teaching math to any young child can be tricky for parents. Sometimes they may need a little bit more guidance, toolsets and structure from their math curriculum than might be available from more traditional sources.
Today’s online learning platforms can provide homeschooling and supplement-seeking parents with engaging and clear lessons, games, activities, tests and more, to help provide as effective and fun a learning experience for their kids as possible.
Finding one that can offer a math curriculum to Kindergarten age kids effectively is a little more difficult, however, for the reasons stated previously.
Some programs are more geared towards older learners, covering pre-K and Kindergarten math only superficially, while others are designed to supplement learning and consequently don’t offer a complete curriculum that is appropriate for at-home learning.
And, of course, some just aren’t very good at all.
To that end, we’ve listed our picks below that we feel are some of the best learning platforms out there that parents can check out. These programs were specifically selected as they:
- Offer a full and complete curriculum for math at the Kindergarten level
- Can engage with and teach math to very young kids
- Offer tools beyond a simple curriculum that can help parents teach the material at home
Price: $19.95 per child per month
Grade levels: Pre-K-12
Also teaches: Kindergarten Science, Language Arts
Full kindergarten math curriculum: ✔
What We Like
But Be Careful
Time4Learning is a comprehensive, online learning platform for Pre-K-Grade 12 that includes full, state-standards aligned Kindergarten curricula in Math, English Language Arts and Science.
The program itself is completely digital and accessible from any web browser, meaning that kids can take their learning with them wherever they go, whether on a tablet, laptop, or computer, although the program may not be ideally displayed on smaller screens like phones.
The Kindergarten math curriculum is quite comprehensive, aligning with state-standards and covering everything from counting and number sense to graphing and probability, and offers a great deal of educational games and activities (over 200 activities for Kindergarten Math alone) that reinforce learning and we find really keeps kids engaged.
Learning is broken up into chapters that focus on overarching themes (Under the Sea, Let’s go on Safari, Numbers in the Neighborhood, etc) that do a great job at connecting learning to things kids know and can get excited about.
Lessons in Time4Learning are fully multisensory, using bright, colorful and entertaining interactive multimedia lessons, with plenty of animations, pictures, music, sound effects and humor, to help teach young students the fundamentals of math without them tuning out.
Finally, beyond just offering an engaging and full curriculum, Time4Learning also offers parents a number of features that can help immensely with homeschooling and supplementing their child’s learning.
Parents get access to lesson plans, automatic grading, scheduling and recordkeeping, progress tracking, have the ability to give and manage assignments and more. There is even a variety of parenting resources that can be helpful to new homeschoolers, such as how-to videos, guides and activity planners.
Read out full review of Time4Learning to learn more.
Bottom Line: With its interactive and highly-engaging lessons, fun educational activities, and helpful resources for parents, Time4Learning’s comprehensive, state standards-aligned Kindergarten math curriculum offers exceptional value for parents and kids alike.
Price: From $29.97 per month
Grade levels: K-12
Full kindergarten math curriculum: ✔
What We Like
But Be Careful
CTCMath is a complete, dedicated online math curriculum that is also highly customizable and flexible enough to provide individualized at-home learning to just about any Kindergarten student.
CTCMath takes a traditional mastery approach to teaching math. This means it goes deep into subjects, giving kids time to process and become comfortable with the material, demonstrating some understanding and skill, before moving on.
The program does not align with common core math but really does go above and beyond, offering Kindergarteners a solid foundation in math fundamentals from learning shapes to days of the week to addition, subtraction and even basic fractions.
Lessons are video based, with a charming Australian host offering simple, consistent, clear and easy to understand introductions to math concepts using a variety of visual drawings and basic animations.
These lessons are short (between 5-10 mins), making them perfect for the short attention span of a 5 year old.
While not as animated or cartoon-like as some other learning platforms out there, CTCMath lessons do use a lot of helpful visuals and animations to convey information and they are very interactive.
Kids don’t just passively watch videos, The videos are followed by a series of short interactive questions (or printable worksheets) and the occasional (and optional) test.
Aside from providing in-depth math instruction for Kindergarten, CTCMath offers quite a few ways to individualize kids learning. Parents have complete control over lesson order, structure and goals, and can even access and introduce material from different grade levels should they want to enrich learning or work on more fundamental concepts.
There is also diagnostic testing that can set benchmarks, identify skill gaps and recommend custom learning pathways for parents to work with. This is great for new homeschooling parents, especially for those starting with Kindergarten age children, as it gives them a better understanding of where to start based on their child’s actual skill, rather than just being expected to dive right in based on age and grade expectations.
Finally, CTCMath contains a question bank wizard, which lets parents create their own worksheets around their own existing lesson plans, should they have any, and really provides a near infinite amount of practice for kids to work on.
Read our full review of CTCMath to learn more.
Bottom Line: While it certainly won’t compete with Netflix in animation and style, CTCMath’s flexibility, easy to understand tutorials, diagnostic testing, progress tracking and custom practice questions makes it a Kindergarten math curriculum that’s hard to beat.
About the Author
David Belenky is a freelance writer, former science and math tutor and a tech enthusiast. When he’s not writing about educational tech, he likes to chill out with his family and dog at home.
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