How to help at home
It is never too early to explore numbers with your child. Real life play is used by children to make sense of the world and often provides the best opportunities to provide early maths skills like counting and recognising numbers. It is important to ensure that maths is experienced through play as much as possible.
Supporting children in maths can start at an early age, with the introduction of songs and rhymes, including numbers that count forwards, “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, once I caught a fish alive.” And songs that count backwards, “Five currant buns, or five speckled frogs.” This supports children in not only naming numbers but also learning the patterns of numbers.
Toys can also support children’s learning of maths, using blocks to build towers or counting them in a line. Parents can also use a child’s interest to count, e.g. if your child enjoys playing with animals or cars, they can be lined up and counted in sequence. Children are able to use memory and reconciliation to understand order and patterns that can be created by counting.
Numbers and maths don’t just appear in children’s play; maths games can be played when spending time with your child in different environments. When shopping, for example, with your child, ask if they can see any shapes around them, like an apple in the shape of a circle or a box of tea bags in the shape of a square. Pick out two products and ask your child which weighs more or less and to identify numbers around them, e.g. prices or aisle numbers.
Children can also identify shapes within their environment, e.g. walking through parks or woods, measuring shadows against one another, identifying shapes in buildings or what children see around them. Looking at buildings and noticing square windows or a rectangular door for example.
Baking and cooking at home with children is another way in which you can support maths. Counting, measuring and weighing ingredients and getting children to take part in mixing and distributing into different containers are maths activities. When baking, children notice patterns – adding a mixture to numerous bun cases or adding food in a certain way to a bowl or container. Shapes can also play a role in cooking, by getting children to identify shapes of containers or utensils (bun or cake tins).
Here are some ideas and links to help your child to explore numbers and shapes: