Early Years Mathematics at home

There are many ways to teach mathematical concepts in early years from showing shapes, counting numbers especially at home.

Everyday we all use different numbers, patterns everyday from telephone numbers, house/apartment numbers, time and many more. Once the child can recognise a number it is important to relate it back to their experience. For e.g. what is the number of our house? What is the floor for my work in the high rise building? What shape is the car wheels? What shape are the car windows?

Looking at shapes size, thickness, colour allows children to understand measurement, numeracy and foundations of counting. I would like to share a white paper which I came across on implementing mathematics at home, see below from early years the organisation for young children;

Maths in the Home

Maths is everywhere in the home. With the support of parents, children can grasp many mathematical concepts through their play.

Children will begin to:

  • know and understand early maths language of measurement, shapes, spaces, positions, early numbers, order and patterns
  • know the sequence of numbers
  • begin to understand positional words, e.g. in, on, outside
  • show an awareness of time
  • be aware of shapes in their environment
  • be aware of 1-to-1 correspondence
  • acquire new vocabulary
  • learn number rhymes and songs, e.g. one, two, buckle my shoe etc.
  • be aware of conservationWhen we say a child “knows her numbers” what we often mean is that she can recite the names
    of numbers in ascending order. This is quite useful to be able to do, but it means very little in itself. Children need to come to know what the number system really means. They can be helped to do this through play.One of the first things they have to learn is about conservation – that 3 is always 3 no matter how it is arranged or presented, whether it is the number 3, the letters for three, 3 bricks, 3 buttons on a coat or 3 Billy Goats Gruff.Before a child can understand numbers for things that can be seen – 3 miles, 3 years old – s/he needs real objects which can be seen and handled with a chance to check that the count is right each time.Young children have many mathematical experiences in their home environment. For example:
  • they learn about money as they go shopping with parents
  • become aware of numbers as they count the stairs to bed
  • start to understand the concept of time as they become familiar with the routine of their day – wash, dress, breakfast etc.A child’s daily life offers many practical opportunities to learn about number, shape, space, sorting and matching.
  • For instance: setting places at the table – a cup for me, a cup for you, playing with water, steering the pram, helping to sort the washing, matching socks, big shirt / small shirt • tidying up – putting similar items together• matching lids to saucepans

Here are a few ways in which you can use play to learn mathematical concepts.

  • Physical Play

    • Develop fine motor skills through physical activity, e.g. Sorting out a jigsaw, Threading beads
    • Block play or playing with toy cars can help to develop sequencing by encouraging your child to sequence according to size, colour, use (e.g. bike, car, lorry)
    • Playing with different sized blocks can help to develop an understanding of weight and dimensions.
    • Tidying toys away allows children to sort into different sizes and colours.
    • It can also develop mathematical language – first, second, third, how many are blue, which is largest / smallest.NatureBy planting seeds you can help to develop your child’s understanding of time and the life cycle of plants.Watch as the plants grow and even measure your plant – develop language such as taller.Teach your child about the different seasons and plant different items at different times of the year to compare colours, flowers, smells.
    • Create opportunities to compare things that float with things that do notImaginative Play
    • Simple activities like letting your child set the table for dinner can help develop counting skills, e.g. getting out three pieces of cutlery.
    • Involve your child with household activities. After washing, allow your child to sort clothes into different colours, or different types of clothes, e.g. t-shirts and socks. This will help to develop a child’s knowledge of shapes and colours. Books and Rhymes enjoy stories and rhymes with your child that has a mathematical element, e.g. “One-two, Buckle my Shoe”, using rhymes can also help develop your childs awareness of sequencing.

There are many opportunities for learning Maths through Play based and sensory play activities.

For more ideas on Learning through Play, get a copy of “I Want To Play”, a publication full of practical ideas to use at home with young children, available at Early Years, 6c Wildflower Way, Apollo Road, Belfast, BT12 6TA, Tel: 028 9066 2825.

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