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Editor’s note: This is the fourth installment in our six-part feature defining The Palmetto Basics, which includes tips on easy, practical ways to bring them to life in your home.

Even babies can begin to understand simple math ideas, making connections that we can nurture through daily interactions that promote number concepts.

Count, Group and Compare is the third of five Palmetto Basics. The Palmetto Basics is a statewide campaign that gives parents, grandparents and caregivers the basics of early learning for children before birth to age 5, with an emphasis on birth – 3 years.

Cheryl Steadham, Facilitator of the Parenting and Family Literacy program in Pickens, said parents, grandparents and early caregivers have a profound opportunity to influence what children learn. Emphasizing math concepts can be an easy, natural part of everyday interactions.

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“We teach parents that you don’t have to buy things to do this,” Steadham said. “You can use what you have in your home. Start where the children are. You can count Cheerios or Goldfish crackers. You can talk about the shape and colors.”

Steadham said grouping items together or talking about the shapes of everyday items like boxes, tables and windows can help make those concepts more concrete for children.

“We’ve got to make sure they get the basics to make sure they are ready for school,” she said. “Doing this sets the foundation for understanding concepts. They can start to learn about application and skills when they start school. It helps them make the connection to the real world.”

These daily practices can also help children – and parents – not to fear math.

“It’s simple things you can do with things you already have around the home,” Steadham said. “It’s a building block for their academic career.”

Count and stack blocks and other objects.

Point as you count items.

Group items by color, shape, size and texture.

Teach the concept of quantity through everyday interactions such as, “Hand me one apple. Hand me one red apple and one green apple.”

When you are grouping and comparing items, set up patterns.

Take walks together and compare the shapes, sizes and colors of leaves and rocks.

Let children measure items in the kitchen.

Use “math words,” like more, less, big, small, tall, short, etc.

Name shapes when pointing them out.

Put things in order from smallest to largest, heaviest to lightest, etc.

Learn more and get more tips at http://palmetto.thebasics.org/en/the-basics/count-group-and- compare.

The Greenville County Library System has launched the Little Learners Club, a challenge designed especially for preschool children that encourages participation in Palmetto Basics-inspired activities. Pick up a Little Learners Club activity log at any Greenville County Library System location. The activity log is used to track participation in the suggested activities. No rush to finish. Just complete by kindergarten. And then, bring the log into any GCLS location to pick up prizes (a Little Learners Club bag and five buttons) one representing each of the Palmetto Basics. Learn more at www.greenvillelibrary.org/kids/little- learners-club.

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