By the time your child is of preschool age, they are already beginning to develop an early understanding of geometry. As they become more aware of spatial relationships, you, as a parent, can help expose them to geometric concepts that will help them learn at a normal and natural pace.
The basis for understanding geometry is rooted in mathematics. When children play with blocks, they are building structures and forms based on mathematical relationships. If a child builds a roof for their block building, they are battling with the concept of length relationships. If they replace two short blocks with one longer block, they are practicing the concept of equivalence. When they build their block building higher and wider, they are considering height, area, and volume.
Children will learn to understand these concepts in the classrooms, but there is plenty you can do to help move the process along.
For young children, engaging in block play is the most basic way to introduce them to geometric shapes and spatial relationships. If you provide your child with blocks of varying shapes and sizes, you will give them the tools they need to start understanding the individual characteristics of each shape as they play.
Make a habit of engaging with your child while they play in order to stimulate geometric thinking. Ask them questions that will get them thinking about the concepts they are already engaging in. How is your block tower different from mine? What will happen if I take out the bottom block? Can you tell me what I need to do to make my block building look just like yours? Can you put two blocks together and make another shape?
You can invest in organization containers to store building blocks according to size and shape. This will stimulate additional geometric thinking by exposing your child to the simple process of matching and sorting during cleanup time.
Make It a Game
Turning playtime into a lesson can help your child learn without them even realizing your intentions. During block play, it’s easy to implement simple games that will get your child talking about important concepts. Similar to how you asked simple questions before, now turn it into a game. Pick up a block and ask your child if they have seen the shape somewhere in the house before.
Arts and crafts time can also offer your child a chance to learn about geometry. This will help them take their knowledge about what a shape is supposed to look like and apply those properties to the physical world. Give them paper and child-safe scissors and ask them to cut out different shapes. If you have pipe cleaners or yarn, you can ask them to manipulate these materials to form shapes.
By the end of kindergarten, your child should be able to identify basic shapes, like circles, squares, triangles, and rectangles. Make up a game where you have your child identify these shapes at home or out in the real world. If you find they are able to find these shapes in everyday objects, try introducing more complex shapes, like octagons, hexagons, and pentagons. See if your child can find these shapes as well.
Keep Them Thinking
No matter what methods you use to teach your child, remember to always keep them thinking. The more they play and interact with these shapes, the more characteristics they will learn to identify. Ask them questions. When you can get them talking, you open up a conversation for learning to begin. Understanding the basic principles of geometry involves a great deal more memorization and repetition than many other types of mathematics. By keeping them thinking, you are laying down a foundation for them to build upon.