It is easy to recognize literacy activities happening throughout a young child’s day. We see them looking at books, drawing pictures, and using “kid writing” to write menus and stories. Yet, math concepts are sometimes not as easy to discern. The children are, in fact, practicing and experimenting with mathematical ideas and processes all of the time. Seeing patterns and connections are two of the most important supporting skills in math. Luckily, children naturally sort, classify, and connect everything in their world.
In basic terms, a pattern is a predictable, repetitive occurrence. We usually think of patterns in very concrete terms, such as in a repeating color set. Red, blue, red, blue is a basic pattern structure. However, the term pattern can be more broadly applied when we think of the patterns of less traditional things. A daily schedule that is typically similar is a pattern. Our diurnal lifestyle is a pattern. The types of food our families eat at different times of day can also be a pattern. When you decide to have pancakes for dinner, an American child can quickly pick up that it is a “special” or unusual choice. Our species thrives and operates on patterns. Though we will spend time on the more traditional ABA and ABBA patterns in our classroom, every moment of their lives our children are practicing the concept.