Patterns are all around us. Bricks in a walk, stripes or plaid in clothing,
and trees planted in orchards are examples of the way people have placed
patterns into their environments.
Patterns are the basis of mathmatics. Childrenís ability to identify, duplicate
and create patterns outside of math underlies the comprehension of numeric
patterns. These activities lead to greater comfort with and understanding
The approach to teaching math has changed significantly in the last ten
years. First-graders used to have early exposure to the math problems that
their parents recognized: pages of exercises with kids adding 2 + 4 and
the like. Unfortunately -- and I remember this well -- the kids didnít
understand what they were doing. How could they be expected to add 7 and
5 if they couldnít grasp what these numbers meant?
In todayís kindergarten and first grade classrooms, teachers spend a significant
amount of time working with children to recognize and create patterns.
With this as a foundation, by the time they get to the traditional addition
and subtraction problems, the kids know what they are doing!
When your child counts to 100, help her to recognize the patterns: how
the sequence of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 0 repeats itself in the
ones place as well as in the tens place. Also notice the different sequences
that show up when counting by 2, 5, 10, 25, and 50.
For most children, this is an auditory process. A chart of the numbers
from 1 to 100 is a good tool for children who are visual learners. For
kids learning multiplication, an old-fashioned chart, with the multipliers
across the top and down one side and the products in the middle gives a
depiction of patterns.
Asking your child to explain what she sees is a good way to help with the
understanding of the patterns. As with so many aspects of learning, if
we can express our understanding to another person, it helps us to understand
This column has been incorporated into Teach Your Children Well: A Teacherís
Advice for Parents.