Math Developing Your Four-Year-Old's Problem-Solving Skills

When you hear the word "math," you probably think about adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing. To solve these operations — and more complicated ones down the road — kids need problem-solving skills and number sense. Number sense is the ability to understand what numbers mean, how they relate to one another and how they can be used in real-world situations. Young children are learning basic, foundational math concepts: when we put cookies in a jar, the amount gets larger (addition); when we take cookies out of the jar, the amount gets smaller (subtraction).

Encourage early problem-solving skills:

Practice Comparing Amounts

Making comparisons is a great start to thinking mathematically. If you give your child two animal crackers and yourself four, no doubt your child can tell who has more and who has less! Throughout the day, ask him to compare the number of blocks in two towers, books in piles, stickers on a chart or food on plates. Build his brainpower by using the words "more," "less" and "the same."

Estimation Exploration

Counting and estimation are two important early math skills that you can practice with your child in this activity with everyday objects.

Do This Activity

Use Subtraction at Mealtime

Your child is learning about subtraction all the time. Consider using mealtimes as a launchpad for discovery. Say something like: "I see you have three apple slices. How many will you have if you eat one?" When she eats one, help her figure out how many are left.

Juggling George

Curious George is practicing his juggling skills. Your child can count, add, and subtract to give George the correct number of fruits to juggle.

Play This Game

Count on Your Fingers

This is a great age to introduce your child to using her fingers to figure out math problems. Start with verbal addition problems of two numbers, both under five. For example, say: "If you had two apples and you added two more, how many would you have all together?" Then model using fingers to figure it out. Always start by presenting easy problems first, then progress to higher numbers.

Giant Hide & Seek

It's time to play a game of hide and seek. Your child can practice adding numbers as he helps Peg and her friends hide from some giants.

Play This Game

Create a Tower of Blocks

Building with blocks is a great way to explore addition with your child. Have her start with one block and add one block more. Ask: "How many blocks are in this tower? How many will we have if we add one more?" See how high the tower can go!

Build a Bridge

Building simple structures is a great way to introduce your child to engineering! Using just a few things around your home, you can design bridges with your child and experiment with what they will hold.

Do This Activity

Help Your Child Learn to Love Math with Peg + Cat

Through engaging stories and comedy, Peg + Cat encourages your child to see math as exciting, accessible, and fun. The show teaches measurement, shapes and patterns, and problem-solving skills that children can use in their everyday lives.

Find Activities

Activity Finder: Learn With Your Four-Year-Old

Explore our Age-by-Age Guide: