Maths is more than just learning how to count. Experiencing activities involving shapes and measuring plays an important part in your child's development.
- When you count things, help your child to see that the last counting word you say tells you how many things there were. Do this by emphasising the last number you say: "one, two, three, four. There are four teddies.'
- Count as many things in everyday life as you can: the number of red cars when walking down the road, the number of buttons as you fasten them, the number of fingers as you put on gloves, the number of socks as you put them in the washing machine or the number of plates at a table, number or tins in the cupboards, toys in the toy box or pencils in the drawer.
- Sing number nursery songs and rhymes as you are sitting in the car, walking to the park etc. Such as Ten Green Bottles or '1,2,3,4,5 Once I caught a fish alive'
- Use story books to practice counting. Ask your child to help you to count, for example, the number of cars in a picture. When objects are in a line, encourage the habit of counting from left to right – this will help with reading text later on.
- Count actions as you clap, jump on the trampoline, or climb stairs. This is helpful in teaching children to say one count for each action.
- Point out numbers in everyday life: on the front door, birthday cards, or clocks.
- Through talking to your child about everyday events and objects they will learn to use words to compare the things they see, e.g. 'bigger' or 'smaller', 'taller' or 'shorter'. They then learn about the tools needed for measuring things - scales for weight, ruler/tape measures for length, clocks for time.
- Discuss and compare objects to see which is heavier/lighter, longer/shorter etc. You could also group sets of objects depending on colour, length, size, shape – this will encourage lots of opportunities for new and language.
- Fill and empty different size and shape containers in the bath/paddling pool/sand pit/soil from the garden.
- Cooking with your child offers a wealth of opportunities for early learning in general. These include weighing and sorting ingredients, doing things in a particular order, counting objects, using a timer, using gross and fine motor skills – stirring, pouring, shaking etc. Give your child the opportunity to taste a range of flavours.
Learning about shapes
- An awareness of shape will help your child’s spatial awareness and there are lots of opportunities to develop language through exploring and describing everyday different shapes.
- Comparing the shapes of the street signs you see on the way to the shops.
- Look at everyday objects and find words to describe their shape – do they have straight or curved sides? How many corners?
- Sort objects according to their properties. E.g. all these objects go in this box because they all have straight sides/are triangles/have more than 3 sides etc.
- Encourage your child to find everyday objects which are rectangles, squares, circles or triangles.