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How To Develop Early Mathematics Skills In Your Child

These ideas will help your child to develop their confidence in counting and in recognizing and using numbers. They will also help your child to explore shape, patterns and measurements in real-life contexts.

Things to try with your child

1. Talk together

Talk with your child about mathematics to build their confidence and help them see how mathematics is used in everyday life. Try following a recipe together, talking about the numbers in the recipe and counting ingredients: ‘We need 2 scoops of flour. We need 1 cherry for each cake.' Set the table together, and ask: ‘Who will be eating dinner today? How many forks do we need?’

2. Play together

Play games that involve number and counting, like bingo, dice, dominoes and card games. Play around with magnetic numbers to help your child’s number recognition. Board games like Snakes and Ladders are also great for practicing counting forwards and backwards.

3. Explore shape

Point out different shapes around you whenever possible. Ask your child how many objects in the kitchen are square or triangular, and look for shapes in the world around you. Choose a 'Shape of the Week' and then see how many times you can spot this shape around you. Ask your child to describe the shape to you. Play 'Shape Tickle'. Draw shapes on your child's back and ask if they can guess what shape it is by feel. Ask: 'How many sides has it got? How many sides do you think are the same length?' Cut out a picture from a magazine and cut it into pieces to make a jigsaw. Use building blocks or construction kits to make shapes.

4. Spot patterns

Look for repeating patterns on curtains, wallpaper, or clothing. Ask your child: 'Can you see a pattern? Tell me about it. What will come next?' Start patterns with blocks, beads, playing cards or toys and encourage your child to build on the pattern to make it longer. Look for patterns in time together (e.g. seasons, months or daily routines) and talk about what you notice: 'We always go to the supermarket on a Monday. We go swimming on a Tuesday.' Listen for patterns in songs and clap or dance the rhythm.

5.Listen to and sing songs and rhymes

Sing – even if it isn't your strong point! Sing counting songs, such as '10 Green Bottles', '1, 2, Buckle My Shoe’ and ‘1, 2, 3, 4, 5, Once I Caught a Fish Alive’. Singing songs is a good way for children become familiar with counting. Don't worry if they choose the same songs again and again!

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