From last week’s post, you are now more aware of the important developmental stages your child must go through toward developing strong math skills. From that, you may have already picked up on several things you can do at home to help encourage your child to take a greater interest in numbers.
To begin with, point out various ways that numbers play a role in their lives. How many horses are there in the field? How many toys do they have on the floor? How many can fit in their backpack?
As your child develops more, have them help you measure recipes in the kitchen, even if you don’t usually measure. This also gives you the opportunity to introduce them to relative concepts such as needing more flour than sugar or two eggs is less than one egg. Help them celebrate the right answers and try not to dwell at all on the wrong ones.
There are always random things in a house that tend to collect. You can collect them all in a plastic bag or a bowl and challenge your child to guess how many items there are in the container and then count them out. These can be things like old keys, marbles, pennies, anything that tends to collect. Be sensible, of course. You wouldn’t want collections of things to be swallowed by a younger brother or sister in reach, but there are plenty of safe options around. Bottles of shampoos and soaps can be a great exercise in bigger and smaller, for example.
When it comes time to start working on simple addition and subtraction problems, you’ll already have a steady supply of manipulative materials at hand.
You can even include math skills during reading time if you wish. Count characters in the story, how many times you use a certain word, or how many letter A’s you can find on the page. Addition and subtraction can be practiced while you add up how many characters there are in a scene and subtract when any of them leave the story. If you’re counting the instances of a particular letter on different pages, you can also compare more than and less than quantities.
Another idea as your child begins moving into more abstract understanding of numbers, you can start to enjoy family game nights using board games and six-sided dice. Have your child figure out how many dots are on the top of the die and choose a board game in which they must move their piece that many spaces forward. This is an excellent way to help them connect real world activities to abstract concepts (numbers) and symbolic representations (the dots on the dice). Plus, you get to have fun while you’re doing it.