08Jul
2014
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5 Fun Ways To Help Your Child Develop Early Numeracy Skills

Before your child begins Prep, it is unlikely that their mathematical skills will be particularly advanced. However, this is not to say that you can’t give your child an advantage by developing their numeracy skills in the early years of their life. While it is by no means necessary that they be taught concepts of addition, subtraction, multiplication or division, what you can do is ensure that they develop a concrete and intuitive understanding of how numbers work.

You have to understand that, before children develop numeracy skills, numbers are just confusing sounds and symbols, which do not yet bear any relationship to the real world. The best thing you can do before your child begins school is to give them a strong sense of how numbers relate to their everyday life. If you can teach your child about numbers in a way that is tactile, auditory, visual and meaningful to them, then they are far more likely to hit the ground running once they get to school! What’s more, if you can make this process fun then you can foster positive attitudes towards mathematics that can help your child throughout their education. So, here are some fun ways that you can help your child develop their early numeracy skills!

1. Sing Songs

If your child is drawn to music, singing songs is a great way to develop a connection with numbers. Before anything else, children usually learn numbers by counting out loud. The ability to count is one of the first steps to developing a strong understanding of how numbers relate to one another. Fun songs such as “Ten in the Bed” and “Five Little Ducks” can help your child to develop a clear understanding of the relationships between numbers. Once your child understands that when one of the five little ducks gets lost, there are only four left, they have already developed a working understanding of how subtraction works. And all they had to do was have fun singing a song!

2. Play With Your Food

Meal times can be a fun chance to develop numeracy skills. For younger children, it can be as simple as asking them how many grapes or pieces of cheese they have on their plate. By linking counting to something tangible that your child can see, touch and eat, you are providing a concrete and physical understanding of how numbers work. This makes numbers meaningful and easy for your child to understand. For older children, you might try to add some basic addition and subtraction problems: add more grapes to your child’s plate, or get your child to eat some of the grapes and ask your child how many there is now. Because this is a very hands on way of introducing mathematical operations, it is much more likely to make sense to younger children.

3. Get Artistic

For visual learners, art projects are a great way of developing a clear understanding of how numbers work. You might set your child a goal to produce a set number of posters to hang on their wall. Each day, take a number from 1 to 10 and encourage your child to write the number and then draw that number of a particular object, such as people, balls, dogs or flowers. After 10 days, your child will be able to display their artwork, and have a fun way of revising their numbers.

4. Measure Height

A good way to introduce your child to larger numbers is by measuring their height. It’s also a great way of introducing basic concepts of measurement. Measuring your child’s height is a fun thing to do on a regular basis throughout the year, as your child will be excited to see themselves growing taller and taller! If you have more than one child, you can use it as a chance to encourage your child to compare numbers. Who is the tallest? How much taller are you than your sibling? How much taller are you than you were last year?

5. Play Board Games

Games like Snakes and Ladders, which involve dice, are a fun way of introducing numeracy to your child. Using dice encourages your child to gain a working understanding of how numbers work in the real world. For example, you can ask your child what number they would have to roll to land on a particular part of the board. What’s more, games that use multiple dice are a great way of teaching your child basic addition. If they roll a 3 and a 2, they have to figure out how many spaces to move. Even if your child can’t perform this addition in their head, they will be able to count the number of dots on the dice and use the board game as a concrete means of working it out.

The key to all the tips that I have provided today is to keep things fun, simple and concrete. At this age, you don’t necessarily have to transform your child into a human calculator; the best thing you can do is to show them that numbers aren’t just confusing symbols on a page, but important concepts that relate to their everyday lives in meaningful, fun and exciting ways. By making numeracy fun and meaningful for your child, you can ensure that they will be in the best possible position to pick up more complex mathematical concepts once they commence school.

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