Maths is a key skill which children need to acquire for use in their everyday lives. There are many aspects to maths and these can be explored through everyday informal contexts through carrying out simple activities and daily routines from a very early age.
Below are some key elements that your child can and will explore!
Begin introducing your child to numbers 1 to 5 and when able to recognise these, move on to numbers 10. A lovely way to introduce numbers to ten and develop your child’s coordination is through hopscotch or a foam number puzzle.
By talking about numbers in the environment your child will develop the ability to recognise numbers more quickly e.g. mention the number bus you are catching, the numbers on houses, numbers in car registrations, telephone numbers. Give them the opportunity to see the different contexts in which numbers are used around them. A simple Numbers 1-20 Wall Chart in your child’s playroom or bedroom will reinforce number recognition on a daily basis.
Counting is also an important part of early mathematics and a skill needed in our daily lives. Begin by encouraging your child to count to 5. You can also develop counting skills though simple jigsaws which are ideal for younger children. When they are confident with counting to 5, count to 10 and subsequently 20.
By using fun and familiar objects counting can be taught in an enjoyable way such as by counting teddies, toy cars, marbles, shells…..
Model counting to your child, and emphasise pointing to each object slowly and saying the numeral aloud at the same time. By learning to count objects up to 5 and then perhaps matching the correct number card to the five objects, your child is beginning to link the number five to the five objects. Keep practising this skill until your child is competent with counting objects to five.
As and when you feel your child is ready, you can introduce them to counting objects to 10 and then progress further to 20. Give your child time at each stage to grasp the concept and number skills involved.
Number formation needs to be practiced and refined. This can be done by simply writing numbers together and your child progressing to do so independently.
You may want to introduce number formation by writing numbers in different fun contexts such as sand, shaving foam, flour or glitter. This informal context makes it more enjoyable and relaxed and will not put pressure on your child to write numbers correctly the first time. Coloured chunky chalks are also great for outdoor number practice!
Keep practising informally until you feel your child is ready to start practising on paper. When your child first forms numbers with a pencil ensure that he/she does not become over anxious about making mistakes. Firstly let your child try tracing over numbers you have written and talk about where to start and how each number is formed. To begin with start with numbers one to five and then progress to numbers up to ten.
Tip – By having a colourful and fun Number Line up in your child’s bedroom, they will become familiar with the order and formation of numbers.
Once your child is competent with counting and writing numbers 1- 20 they are usually ready to progress to simple addition. It is helpful to work though simple addition sums at home, using concrete objects to support your child such as buttons, shells, counters or beads.
It is best to concentrate on adding numbers 1 – 5 using objects to explain this concept. You could use marbles or coloured counters to help your child understand how we can count and add two objects together. When they understand how to add and count objects introduce them to the number sentence and addition sign (+). Practise simple addition sentences together.
Give them plenty of practise with simple addition to five and encourage them to write out the addition sum and work out the answers (1 + 1 = 2). A child sized whiteboard and marker are great for practising number sentences, as your child can confidently erase any mistakes.
Number bonds to five can be introduced once your child has understood the concept of addition. This involves your child learning and understanding what pairs of numbers make five and then being able to write these out in number sentences e.g. 5 + 0 = 5, 4 + 1 = 5, 3 + 2 = 5, etc.
When your child is competent with number bonds to five, they are usually ready to move onto number bonds to ten. This can be done through using objects such as pasta, shells, counters or buttons to help them understand the idea of making ten in different ways e.g. 5 + 5 = 10, 6 + 4 =10 etc.
Subtraction is an important concept for children to grasp and is best taught after addition has been understood. Subtraction can be introduced through practical activities where object are taken away and the remainder then counted. When children understand this concept, they can progress to formal ways of recording subtraction i.e. number sentences.
Nursery rhymes are a valuable way to explore subtraction with younger children e.g.‘Ten in a Bed’, ‘Five Speckled Frogs’
You might want to buy a Counting Songs CD so your child can sing along to each song, they may surprise you with how quickly they are able to sing the number rhymes on their own.
Our everyday lives provide many hidden opportunities to teach maths skills. They often require no planning for and occur naturally on a daily basis. These situations should be taken advantage of and used to help your child learn basic skills such as counting, addition and number recognition.