The Development of Pattern Skills

What Are Patterns?

Patterns are things that repeat in a logical way. Patterns can be found everywhere in children’s daily lives. They can be a sequence of shapes or letters such as AB, ABC, AABB, a routine physical action such as brushing their teeth every night before bed or an environmental normality like the sun’s pattern of rising in the morning and setting in the evening.

Why Are Pattern Skills Important?

Patterns help children make predictions as they begin to understand and anticipate what comes next. Patterning is a foundational math skill upon which many mathematical skills and concepts are based. Studies show that early understandings of patterns correspond with later algebraic understanding (Hindman et al., 2010). For example, the ability to identify and create patterns is an important building block in the development of a child’s logic and reasoning skills.

How Do Children Learn Pattern Skills Over Time?

Infants play predictable activities with caregivers such as pat-a-cake and peekaboo. 

Toddlers attempt to mimic vocal and physical patterns by clapping or playing follow-the-leader games. They begin to copy simple two-step patterns, such as red-blue, red-blue.  

Preschoolers create and extend two-step patterns and play memory games. With help, they begin to copy and extend three- or four-step patterns.

Primary schoolers determine the missing piece of a pattern within a sequence and recognize simple patterns in their environments. They begin to develop and explain their own formulas for creating a variety of patterns.   

Our integrated curriculum system uniquely weaves 35 research-based skills into playful games and discovery projects. The cross-disciplinary model supports a child’s on-going social-emotional, physical, language and cognitive development. See what children learn through play and download the Developmental Continuum of Skills.

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