Did you know?
Early Numeracy skills aren’t just vital for math class — they play an important role in helping us complete our everyday tasks.
Before your preschooler begins adding or counting numbers, there are a few early numeracy skills they may need to develop.
Luckily, these skills can be fostered outside of the classroom and in our daily interactions!
We’ll tell you how!
9 simple ways to enable early numeracy in your child
1) In, out & all-Around
Maths is more than just numbers, right?
Spatial reasoning plays a role in establishing connections between maths and the real world.
Spatial reasoning refers to understanding how objects look from different angles, how objects fit together, and how they are spaced. Eg: When your child understands, “big and small” it may be helpful when teaching “6 is bigger than 5.”
As they mentally picture one number being ‘bigger than another, it may help them view the numbers linearly.
There are a few ways you can help foster spatial reasoning for early numeracy in your child:
- Blocks and puzzles are good examples of spatial play. Ensure you talk to your child about the different aspects of the play — “we’ve put the big block on top of the small block.”
- Turn over a large basket sideways and prop it against the wall. Prompt your child to kick a ball into the basket ‘goal.’ This requires your child to understand the distance, estimate spaces, and kick the ball.
2) Bigger than this, Smaller than that
Comparison skills have laid the foundation for children to develop estimation skills.
Estimation activities are easy to incorporate into your daily life. Here your child will go beyond guessing and use the basis of reason and comparison to make an estimate.
A game of “measuring scavenger hunt’ can help your child focus on the estimation and comparison of sizes.
Help your child use their hands or body parts as a ‘measuring’ tool. “Can you find a leaf that is bigger than your hands?”
Once all the materials have been picked up, hold them against your hands and record the answers.
You can fill the jar with small items such as pebbles, candies, flowers, etc, and have your little one guess how many there are. Then take them out and count to see the total.
In your everyday life, direct their attention to details and patterns and ask them some ‘estimate-specific’ questions.
3) Shaping their skills
Your child first identifies a shape as a symbol before they learn the properties of each shape in their later years.
The ability to recognize such shapes lays the foundation for them to later understand signs and symbols in maths concepts.
As they explore shapes, children learn to construct, compare, compose and decompose them, which helps develop pattern recognition, spatial recognition, among other key early math concepts.
Incorporate tangrams in daily play, and let your little one explore how shapes can be constructed to create bigger images.
Have ‘shape hunts’ where you identify different shapes in your surroundings.
4) Measured up!
Whenever possible, include your little in the kitchen. Have them help you measure and drop ingredients.
Although they may not be able to measure using tapes and weights, you can help them measure and estimate using non-standard measuring tools, etc.
“Can you give me two cups of flour”, “can you drop in one slice of carrot.” Use blocks to help measure and count.
Build a block tower and encourage your child to build a tower of their own.
Count the number of blocks in both towers and identify which tower has more.
Sounds fun, right?
5) One for you, and you, and you!
During mealtime or snack time, pass around your things one at a time and emphasize on it, “one biscuit for mama, one biscuit for dada, and one biscuit for you.”
Whenever possible, use the help of your little one to pass the biscuit, or other items, around, by matching an item to a number set.
In this instance, you count a total of three biscuits, and you distribute them to three members of the family.
This helps children associate counting with numbers, as opposed to rote learning the numbers.
A simple die is a great way tool in helping you teach one-to-one correspondence. Eg: roll the die, count the number of dots that show up, and place the same number of toys in a circle.
6) Sorting Hat
Have your little one help you sort different things at home.
This may include sorting pasta, sorting cutlery, sorting clothes by type, or sorting socks by colour.
Include your child in your everyday tasks — while you’re in the kitchen, give them different types of pasta in a bowl and smaller bowls to sort them in.
You can encourage your child to sort almost anywhere!
Sorting helps lay the fundamental skills of recognizing patterns. While sorting children identify items by single or multiple attributes.
They also identify and compare to understand differences and similarities.
7) What’s Next?
Pattern recognition is a foundational math skill. There are a few ways in which we can help your child develop pattern recognition — creating and identifying patterns.
Recognizing patterns will help your child develop their reasoning skills.
You can direct their attention to patterns in their everyday life. You can start with straightforward patterns: “Look at the lines on your shirt! Red, blue, red, blue, red, blue.” or “Let’s sort your toys from smallest to biggest.”
Create activities where you set up colour beads or twigs and leaves in a particular pattern and have your child complete the pattern by replicating.
You can also introduce more abstract patterns such as day and night or their daily routine.
Helping them recognize the predictability of ‘it is morning when I wake up, and the sun is up’ or ‘after lunchtime, I take a nap’ helps them establish logic and structure.
These early numeracy skills lay the foundations for algebraic functions in their later lives.
8) 1, 2… clap!
If you’ve helped your little one find patterns, they’re ready to make patterns now.
We can do this using music. We can use beats and rhythms to help children experience the pattern.
Play loud music with a strong bass or tempo. Demonstrate how to follow along to the beat of the song, you can clap, tap your knees, or even march.
You can also try to match your movements to the tempo of the song, clap slow or fast.
Similarly, you create a pattern by clapping or tapping, without music, and have your child follow along.
Songs and rhyme which are repetitive help children recognize and follow along to a pattern.
Popular songs such as Old McDonald or The Lady Who Swallowed The Fly are repetitive and add on to themselves as you sing, which helps your child recognize the pattern while adding ‘more’.
9) Count-along books and rhymes
One of the most basic and simple ways to introduce numbers and counting is count-along books and rhymes!
The classic five little ducks and the many versions of it are simple enough, to begin with.
Such books help your child lay the foundation for early math literacy as they introduce children to numbers.
They associate numbers with images as they help correlate numbers to counting.
Finger-play rhymes and count-along rhymes also help match numbers to count, as we use our fingers to show the count.
Count-along books and rhymes help your child acquire counting skills, however, it is important to keep in mind this isn’t a single skill.
These books and rhymes also play a vital role in helping children understand what numbers are, what they mean and why we count.
Early numeracy skills are the foundation for later numeracy and math skills.
This is something young children acquire even before they enter formal learning processes.
Thus, it is essential to nurture these mathematical abilities!
If you have any more tips on inculcating early numeracy skills, please drop a comment below!