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Our Favourite Ways to Nurture Maths Skills in Children

In the formative stage of your children's development it's usually easier to develop literacy skills. Be it reading to your child at night or letting them practice reading a story book to you; nurturing a love of words can be much simpler than a fascination with numbers. However, the latter is just as important.

 

In fact, research suggests that early numerical skills are incredibly beneficial for your child as they get older. Greg Duncan, researcher and Professor of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern has found that "the single most important factor in predicting later academic achievement is that children begin school with a mastery of early maths and literary concepts". This early exposure to numeracy is said to further concentration, innovation, working memory and even curiosity.

Moreover, maths is a part of education that can be introduced and developed from a very early age. Dr Douglas Clements' research concluded that "by 6 to 12 months of age, children can recognise small groups of numbers without counting". Despite this, it can be tricky to know where to begin in terms of developing these numerical skills. Here are a few of our favourite ways to nurture maths in your children.

Make the Process Enjoyable

Learning to become comfortable with simple numbers can be just as crucial as understanding the abstract concept. Children who dread numerical activities and feel anxious about their performance in maths often struggle to grasp the more in depth concepts. The best way to solve this is to make maths as fun as possible- if the process is enjoyable then results will eventually follow. You can introduce simple counting and equations without your child even knowing they're doing maths.

Embracing Simplicity

Sometimes activities don't need to be complex to help encourage learning. Very simply, you could ask your child to describe "how many" there is of x when you see the same object multiplied (e.g. how many pigeons are there in the town square?). Or you could even ask how many Cheerios there are left in the bowl!

Toys

Some toys can be helpful for nurturing maths skills. For instance, building blocks can be an exciting way of developing the concept of numbers independently. Meanwhile, simple board games also offer an opportunity to add a competitive element to improving numerical competence. Candyland encourages counting, dominoes helps with number matching and monopoly too can help develop a more sophisticated grasp of numbers. There are online games that can ease this process as well. MathPlayground offers various mini-games for your children, while CBeebies also have a number of online resources to help make maths enjoyable for your child.

Books and Stories

Stories, sing songs and poems can all combine literacy with numbers and counting. Useful songs that encourage numerical skills include: 1,2,3,4,5 Once I Caught a Fish Alive, Hickory Dickory Dock and One, Two Buckle My Shoe. Even some educational videos can prove to be very useful in this regard too.
A Fresh Environment

For children who are hesitant or get frustrated easily, it can help to take them out to a different environment. Try simple maths while out for a walk, count the petals on a flower, or how many steps it takes to cross the river, or simply combine it with spending quality time together over a hot chocolate on a Saturday morning.

Invest Time

Just as you would spend time with your child reading, perhaps give up a similar part of your day to numerical activities too. Whilst it's a long journey to developing mathematical skills, the end results can be very rewarding!

 
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