Early Geometry Concepts: Making Connections to the Real World
Geometry is a branch of mathematics relating to shape, size, and spatial reasoning. While geometry in the traditional sense is usually taught at the high school level, even young children can build a strong foundation for the subject by developing early geometry concepts. For instance, small children can describe shapes in terms of edges and the number of sides.
They can also learn about the relationships between parts of shapes. For instance, a child can recognize that a diamond shape appears to be made of two triangles put together. Children can also learn what shapes fit within each other, noting that a square cannot fit into a circle of equal size.
Why are early geometry concepts important?
When young children learn early geometry concepts such as shape and the relationship between different shapes, they begin to make sense of the world around them. By learning aspects of shape, location, direction, and the distinction between two-dimensional and three-dimensional objects, children develop foundational skills they will use for all mathematical subjects and logical thinking in future years.
Children develop early geometry concepts differently based on their age
Even as babies, little children learn geometry concepts such as relative size (parents are big and baby is small) and understand words that describe quantities (more, bigger, enough). Toddlers learn to understand quantities in the form of “how many” by holding up their fingers to represent their age, for instance. They are able to explore measurement and spatial reasoning by filling up different containers with various objects and can match basic shapes (circle with circle, square with square).
Young children just beyond the toddler years sort shapes, compare and contrast things by size and shape, and can use spatial awareness to complete simple puzzles. As children age into early elementary school, they are able to predict what comes next in patterns, create their own patterns, and understand the difference between two-dimensional and three-dimensional objects.
How to develop these early geometry concepts in your children
To begin building knowledge of early geometry concepts in your children, you can utilize “geometry talk.” Here are some examples:
- To teach your child about shapes and the relationships between them, point out all of the circles around you and talk about what makes a circle a circle (ex. no edges)
- Build her visual memory of shapes by drawing a triangle, showing it to her for two seconds, and then asking her to describe it from memory.
- Show your child a picture of a city and ask him to find all the rectangles.
- Challenge your child to create a square using four pipe cleaners.
- Move up and down steps and ask your child to distinguish between “up” and “down”
- Ask your child which muffin she wants: the bigger one or the smaller one?
By engaging your child in “geometry talk” you are building his foundation for mathematical thinking in the future. You are also helping him to develop a zeal for learning by becoming excited by geometry in the everyday world around him.