At home, you can teach your children as you go through life. Counting is one of the easier teachable skills. As you walk, drive, eat, shop, get dressed, read and play together, you can teach numeracy skills.
- Recognising all numerals from 0 through 9 and knowing each name.
- Pointing and counting at the same time.
- Patterning, both recognising a pattern and keeping the pattern going.
- Creating a pattern.
- Sorting (into sizes, colours, objects that are like each other).
From the start
When could you start introducing the idea of numbers? When your child is as young as 12 months. Start counting small. Two feet – one, two. Or how many buttons – one, two, three! By the time your child is two years old, they could possibly count to 10 but it’s by memory.
Sometimes they’ll skip some numbers; sometimes they’ll get it right. Don’t worry about the mistakes.
When out walking, notice the numbers on letterboxes. Count specific items, like a specific flower that is blooming in the gardens.
Look out for other items you might see regularly.
As we drive in the car, it’s a chance to look for five blue cars or three green trees. Watch out for large numbers on buildings and ask your child to call them out. “What number can you see on that red building?”
“Let’s count these peas!” is a helpful way to get food into your child’s mouth! Talk about the shape and colour too! “I’ll have two pieces of apple and you can have two pieces of apple – how many pieces is that?” As you eat together, “I have eaten one of my pieces of apple – how many are left?” These are early numeracy experiences.
As your child gets older, laminate pictures from supermarket brochures and help your child find items you need while shopping. Count the apples as they go in your eco-friendly bag.
When getting dressed
Thankfully God created us with fingers, toes, eyes, ears – all great body parts to count. Sometimes the rush to get out the door precludes slowing down the dressing process. Other times we can take time to count the toes on the foot that appears through the pants’ leg. Or fingers that appear at the end of a sleeve!
While reading and playing
The illustrations in a book create wonderful opportunities to count. “Let’s count the butterflies on this page,” for example. And while playing, “Can you find five red blocks?” Sing songs like 5 Little Ducks or repeat rhymes like 5 Hats on My Head to practice addition and subtraction.