Did you know that shapes play a very important role in the early years? In fact, shapes are one of the first things that young children learn. This is because shapes are such an integral part of our everyday lives. Shape learning is an important skill that lends itself to many concepts young children will encounter in school. It is therefore important for parents and caregivers to start teaching their children about shapes at a young age in order to give them a head start. In this blog post, we will discuss the importance of shapes in the early years and why you should help your toddler or preschooler learn about shapes now!
Shapes and the Early Years
Kids are able to notice and manipulate shapes long before they begin to draw them or even learn their names. One of the earliest things that children learn is shapes. From the day they are born, they begin to learn about the shapes of the objects around them and the spaces in between. As children grow older, they learn more about shapes and their attributes, or characteristics. This is an important process, as shapes play a big role in our everyday lives.
Providing toddlers and preschoolers with lots of practice with shapes helps them create a foundation for future learning and provides them with an advantage in many other areas of learning as well. Shape learning is a significant skill that lends itself to fundamental literacy, math, and science concepts that children will encounter throughout their schooling. Helping your child think and talk about shapes at an early age will have a profound impact on their education in the early years.
The Importance of Shape Learning
You as a caregiver play a vital role in your child’s early learning and development. Here are five reasons why it is important for you to help your toddler or preschooler learn about shapes!
1. Helps With Letter and Number Recognition
One of the most important benefits of toddlers and preschoolers learning about shapes is that it helps them develop early literacy and math skills. The shapes that we see all around us in our everyday lives are the same shapes that make up the letters and numbers in our alphabet and number system!
When children are able to identify shapes, they will be better equipped to learn about letters. A preschooler who can tell the difference between shapes is better positioned to notice the distinctions in the letters of the alphabet, which are essentially made up of lines and shapes. Once your child deepens this knowledge, they can then begin to translate their learning of shapes and letters onto paper as writing.
In addition to letters, shape learning can also help your child develop their number recognition skills. Number recognition, or being able to recognize and name numbers quickly and accurately, is an essential math skill that preschoolers will need before they can tackle more advanced concepts such as comparing numbers and addition. Just as shapes are found in the letters that we use, so too are shapes found in numbers. Preschoolers who have a solid grasp of shapes can have an easier time as they learn to identify and name numbers. The number eight, for example, is essentially made up of two circles.
By teaching your child about shapes and helping them to identify shapes in letters and numbers, you are helping them build foundation for early literacy and math skills that will greatly benefit them in future learning.
2. Promotes Sorting and Classifying Skills
Another important benefit of shape learning for toddlers and preschoolers is that it helps children develop sorting and classifying, or categorizing, skills. Sorting and classifying is a skill that requires children to put objects into categories based on their similarities or differences. This skill is important for children as it helps them to make sense of the world around them.
Toddler and preschoolers must concentrate on the distinct properties in order to learn the differences between shapes. As young learners begin to sort shapes, they must rely on their observational and visual discrimination skills to recognize and group them together based on their attributes. For example, a child might group all the squares together and all the circles together. Shape sorting activities help young children learn that all triangles have 3 sides and 3 corners, and eventually that all triangles do not necessarily look the same. Classifying shapes, or any objects, into categories helps children develop an understanding of how things are related to one another. Sorting and classifying are key skills that children will use in science.
3. Enhances Vocabulary Development
One of the most obvious benefits of toddlers and preschoolers learning shapes is that it helps with vocabulary development. When children learn the names of shapes and are exposed to different shapes and their characteristics, they are essentially learning new words. Shape terms are often difficult for young children to learn and retain, but learning the name for shapes is an essential stage in language acquisition. As children learn more shapes and their names, they are also able to communicate about shapes with greater detail. By being able to identify shapes and their attributes, for example, a child can say that a square has four sides that are all the same length and that a triangle has three corners.
Shape naming is just one aspect of vocabulary development. When children learn about shapes and their attributes, they are also learning new concepts. Learning about shapes helps to prepare young learners for future learning in other subject areas.
4. Introduces Early Math Concepts
Shapes are a great way to introduce young children to the world of mathematics. In fact, learning about shapes can help children develop important skills such as counting and basic math. As your child plays with their favorite building blocks, puzzles, or nesting toys, they are actually getting their first taste of geometry, which is the study of shapes.
In kindergarten, Common Core State Standards for math require children to develop geometry skills by identifying, describing, analyzing, and comparing shapes. Teaching your toddler or preschooler about shapes will help to ensure they have a solid understanding by the time they enter KG and give your child a head start on learning in order to meet those early geometry standards. Working with shapes can also help preschoolers learn to count as they sort and count the number of shapes in a group or identify how many sides a shape has. Teaching young children about shapes helps build a foundation for multiple early math skills that children will then be able to use when encountering more complex concepts.
5. Improves Understanding of Spatial Relations
The ability to understand spatial relations is another skill that is developed through shape learning. Spatial relation is the ability to understand how objects are positioned in relation to one another. As children grow their knowledge of shapes, it will help to improve their understanding of spatial relations in other areas of their life, such as play! For example, when a child recognizes the features of a circle, he can match it with the circle hole on his favorite toy. Children build on their knowledge of shapes when completing puzzles as well. To figure out which puzzle piece fits where, children must pay attention to the shapes found in the puzzle pieces to find its correct spot.
Shape learning is an important early childhood skill that provides a foundation for future literacy, math, and science skills. Teaching shapes to toddlers and preschoolers aids in the development skill such as of sorting and classifying, vocabulary, and spatial relation. By starting early, you can help your child set the stage for a successful future in learning. Start teaching your child about shapes today and see the difference it makes!
Looking for Fun Ways to Teach Shapes?
Check out our Shape Pals Learning Puzzles! These 2-piece puzzles feature 12 Black and brown shape characters that all kids will love! Designed by a a teacher to help young children learn shapes and colors, our educational puzzles include basic and more advanced shapes for young children to acquire school-related vocabulary terms and knowledge. Each puzzle piece will only fit with its correct match, so children can practice independently while having fun!
We also have our 2D Shape Bulletin Board Cards which feature many characters from our Shape Pals Learning Puzzles! Our large, multi-use shape cards are perfect for bulletin boards, flashcards, learning centers, and more!