I have a four year old daughter who is verbally advanced and reads fluently. Both my husband and I are avid readers, so we have always encouraged her early interest in reading. Neither of us set out to teach her how to read, but at some point when she was three, she became interested in reading on her own and she would constantly ask us, "what does this say?" until eventually "things clicked" and she could read novel words by herself. Since then, we have encouraged her love of reading with frequent trips to the library. We have so many books out at a time that I feel like I am single handedly supporting our public library in the form of late fines.
We recently bought her a bunch of the Usborne "see inside" books we found used: "See inside Science", "See inside how things work", etc. This morning, we cracked open "See Inside Math," and she was instantly enchanted. I was surprised by how fast she picked up on the concepts in the book, considering I have not explicitly taught her very much math at all. For example, she instantly grasped that the number line is infinite, and pointed out, "But the ABC's are not like that because Z is the final letter." She understood odd vs. even numbers and divisibility by two. After discussing the concept of multiplication with her for a couple of minutes, she got the idea and could model multiplication problems with little groups of toys. Then she spent some time checking multiplication scenarios with the answers in the book's times table, and was tickled that they always matched. After I stopped exploring the book with her, she continued reading about the more advanced concepts on her own, and even though she couldn't understand these, she seemed engrossed.
I know this display does not make her a math whiz. However, I do think that we have overlooked her possible interest in math because her verbal abilities developed so early and we recognized them first. We mainly think of her as a verbal kid because of her vocabulary and reading, but she also loves to build and has always been into machinery and science, so math would be a natural extension of that interest. Besides, even if she turns out *not* to be gifted at math, I've realized it's important for parents not to neglect math education in our girls, because society already does that.
So, how should I foster a child's early math ability? Encouraging her verbal ability just comes intuitively to me, but I really have no idea where to begin with math. I was expecting to just leave all the math to the kindergarten teacher when she starts school, but I just looked at our state's common core standards for kindergarten math and the concepts seem pretty basic. I'm pretty sure differentiation and gifted education does not begin until at least the 1st grade where we live. She doesn't know arithmetic facts off the top of her head like some other kids we know, e.g., "3+5=8" "9-5=4", though she does understand the concept of addition and subtraction and could count out the answers if I asked her. Would memorizing the facts be a good place to start? Is there a fun way to teach these facts? What are some other good early concepts to teach? Is there a good textbook or curriculum that you would recommend?
Thanks in advance!