What Math Skills Do Children Need Before Kindergarten? - Student Resources

What Math Skills Do Children Need Before Kindergarten?

pre-school student studying to prepare herself

Parents need to keep the goal of setting a solid foundation for continued learning in mind when they consider, “What math skills do children need before kindergarten?”

Kindergarten is a big new challenge for kids. It’s often their first experience with structured learning. They will be introduced to many new concepts and develop a lot of new skills.

Starting out with an understanding of certain early math concepts can help ease them into things and set them up for success. Integrating early learning math skills into their activities and play is a great way to build their knowledge before heading to kindergarten.

Skills that include number recognition and counting, shapes, sorting and classifying, patterns and measurement are all skills early learners can begin to tackle during their early years at home or in a prekindergarten class.

Number Recognition and Counting

Learning to count to at least 10, if not higher, will begin to lay the foundation for future math skills. This skill is something children begin between 2 and 4 years old. This is when their ability to grasp the concept of numbers and their correlation to physical objects increases dramatically. Most children can count to 10 and beyond by the age of 4.

Counting can be introduced through interactive activities, such as counting toys during playtime or counting steps while climbing stairs. The goal here is to develop a strong sense of numerical order and quantity.


Recognition of basic shapes such as circles, squares, triangles and rectangles lay the groundwork for more complex geometric understanding later on in a child’s education.

As the children begin to learn, they will see certain shapes that surround them every day in the real world. Practicing shape recognition while on a walk, in your home or on a drive are great ways to begin learning the skills they will need.

Prompting them with questions like, “What is the shape of a stop sign?” or, “What is the shape of a bicycle tire?” are great ways to teach them how shapes are part of the real world.

Sorting and Classifying

Teaching kids to sort and classify objects based on attributes like size, color or shape encourages logical thinking. Working with your child on activities where they can group similar items together fosters an understanding of patterns and categories.

Exercises like organizing colored toys, a spice cabinet or disorganized box of screws can help provide real-world situations where they can apply the new skills.


Understanding and creating simple patterns – ABAB or red, blue, red, blue – is a precursor to more advanced math concepts. The use of writing to create letter patterns can help foster their reading and writing skills at the same time. Other objects, like Crayons or markers, can be used to create color patterns.


While formal measurement may not be expected, introducing basic concepts like size and quantity can be beneficial. Encourage your child to compare the size of objects, starting with

simple terms like bigger and smaller, or more than and less than. You can use different objects like blocks, toys, pieces of candy and other items to drill the concepts. These early experiences with measurement set the stage for understanding mathematical relationships.

As children grow more comfortable with their skills, incorporate more complex – yet still fun – skills. Have them cook simple recipes with you in the kitchen and let them measure ingredients. Not only will this help their understanding of measurement, but it will also help them understand following instructions.

Parents can play a pivotal role in shaping their child’s early math learning experiences. By practicing these simple concepts, you can help form your child’s math foundation and put them on a path to success in kindergarten. The key is to make math a part of their everyday experiences, turning each moment into an opportunity for growth and discovery.