If you’re the parent of a preschooler, kindergarten readiness is a big concern, especially if your schedule is crowded with the usual busyness of commutes, activities, play dates and the occasional meltdown. 

The good news is that there’s an easy and effortless way to help kids get familiar with foundational math, some of which they’ll master in kindergarten. And you don’t have to finish a single worksheet or hold up any flashcards. This is the everyday math approach, and as their parent, the idea is to be their leader and guide to discovering the many ways math shows up in our world.

Get the ball rolling and explore some of these everyday math concepts when you’re out and about, eating dinner or getting ready to play. 

Counting: That’s it. Don’t worry whether they’re counting in three languages, or entering the stratosphere of 100. Ground them in a countable reality. Look for moments where you can count things together that come to 10 or less. As you descend the staircase, count the stairs. When it’s time to clean up, tell them to start by picking up 10 DUPLO blocks (and count them along the way). Make it all count. Count cars on your walk, teddy bears in the display, peas on the plate — wherever your child can point an index finger.

Shapes: By the end of kindergarten, students will need to describe shapes as a part of their math standards. Drive this home by seeking and comparing shapes you see in everyday life. Look, the smartphone is a rectangle, and so is the computer screen and so is the door. See any other rectangles in the room? Which rectangle is the smallest? 

Sorting: During play or snack time, objects like colored candies or LEGO Bricks can be organized by size, color or shape. Line them up and compare them. Are there more green LEGO or red LEGO?   

Patterns: Pattern recognition is a key math skill we don’t always think about, but luckily, patterns abound out in the world. Snap together LEGO Bricks, starting with a simple A-B pattern of, say, red-yellow-red-yellow, and build from there. You can make A-B-C patterns, A-A-B patterns and so forth. Then, keep an eye out to see where else patterns show up. Fabric, illustrations and wallpaper prints are all excellent places to look.

Enriched playtime: During free time, look for classes and workshops that incorporate fun and learning into their curriculum. At our Bricks 4 Kidz preschool workshop, they’ll have fun piecing together models around themes that kids love. At the same time, they’ll get hands-on experience with foundational math concepts like patterns, counting, ordering and comparing. Not that they’ll know it. They’ll think they’re just having fun!