Understanding basic concepts of math and numbers is a necessary skill for preschoolers. Believe it or not, as early as infancy, children are capable of observing some fundamental mathematical concepts in their surroundings. As kids near preschool age, it’s essential for parents to start teaching numbers using fun and exciting methods that will help to make these concepts stick.
When should parents start teaching numbers?
You can start introducing the concept of numbers to children as young as 12 months old. Begin small by presenting only a few items. For example, get three balls and demonstrate counting by saying, “One, two, three! How many balls? Three!”
Once children turn two, they may be able to count as high as ten, but they may not yet comprehend that these numbers can correspond to numbers of objects. At this age, there may also be a tendency to skip some numbers. Don’t worry about this. The most important thing is that your child is starting to learn how to say numbers. Find opportunities for your little one to practice learning numbers whenever you can.
Use toys when teaching numbers
Kids love toys. When you use them for teaching numbers, it becomes a fun and engaging activity. Here are a couple of ideas to help you teach your child about numbers using toys:
- Write in the sand. The great thing about sand is that whatever you write can easily be erased. Children don’t have to worry about making mistakes when writing numbers in the sand. Your child will love this because it’s tactile and fun!
- Use playdough. Many preschoolers love to play with play dough any chance they get. Invite your child to roll a piece of playdough into a “snake”, and then to form numbers using the snake. Next, you can have your little one create the number of balls out of playdough that matches each number.
Teach counting with nursery rhymes
Kids enjoy listening to songs over and over again. Encourage them to learn about numbers by introducing them to nursery rhymes that involve numbers. Songs like This Old Man, He Played One, 10 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed, and One, Two, Buckle My Shoe teach children about the concept of numbers in a fun way. Sing with your child and use your fingers to demonstrate each number.
Relate counting to daily tasks
Whenever your child helps around the house, use it as an opportunity to teach numbers.
For example, you may be cutting apples for dessert. Ask your little one to place a certain number of pieces on each plate to serve to each family member. Or bring children with you to the grocery store and ask them to grab a specific amount of cereal boxes from the shelf and put them in the cart. At home, ask children to count each toy as they put them away one by one after playing.
Invite your child’s buddies to come over and play number games
Learning becomes easier when it’s fun. When your child has friends over, invite them to sit in a circle and have them take turns counting.
Ask your child to draw the quantity of the number you wrote
Write a number on a piece of paper or a board made for kids. Then ask children to draw that number of an object of their choice. Then do the opposite. You draw a specific number of items and have your child count them and write that number.
Connect the dots
Playing connect-the-dots is a fun activity, especially for children who love to draw. You can create numbered dots to form simple shapes like hexagons and octagons. You can also buy connect-the-dots activity books so your child can have fun with a variety of drawings. Have your child draw based on the sequence of the numbers. After children finish forming the final picture, they can color it in.
Point to signs and license plates
Noticing billboards and license plates is a great way to help your child recognize numbers by sight. When you are outside with your child, point to signs you see and read them aloud. Have your child do the same. This activity can help children as they start learning how to write numbers.
Count using fingers and toes
An excellent method for introducing numbers to your preschooler is by counting your own fingers. When kids learn how to count using their fingers, they can start communicating numbers to you by showing an amount with their fingers. Help them remember those numbers through repetition. Include toes so you can reach the number 20.