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Early Years Maths at Home

Home learning has never been so widespread as it has been in 2020. Helping your child develop their learning at home may have brought tears of joy (or just tears!) but now is a good time to give yourself a pat on the back and acknowledge just how much of an impact encouraging learning at home can have. This is the case for all home learning, for all ages, but in this blog we are going to look in particular at developing early maths skills at home.

Recently, TIMSS1 released a publication that shows Northern Ireland, along with six other countries, outperform England in terms of results in mathematics at primary level. Specific reasons for this are unknown but, it has been noted that a large proportion of parents in Northern Ireland spend time working on early maths learning before their children start primary school and continue to support maths work at home thereafter.

Whilst it must be noted that, in the same study, England has improved its overall performance in mathematics, we must not ignore the fact that there is much we can do to give our children an improved chance of achieving higher results. For this, it begins in the early years.

Helping your child with early maths skills may feel a little daunting. Fitting in maths learning whilst trying to juggle working from home and the pressures of day-to-day life may feel like a huge battle. However, rest assured, you’re already doing more than you think! There are so many ways that everyday activities can become learning opportunities for children in the early years, without them even knowing they are learning! Here are some examples, most of which you probably do already, without even realising:

  • Look at numerals on birthday cards and talk about age. ‘Yesterday you were 3 and now you are 4!’ This can help with recognising and ordering numbers, as well as number formation. You could also encourage your child to draw over the top of the numbers with their finger.
  • Use mathematical language such as ‘You can have one more,‘ and ‘We haven’t got any left!’ This helps your child learn the concept of ‘how many’.
  • Similarly, when pouring drinks with your child, use the vocabulary of ‘It’s nearly full, be careful we don’t spill any!’ or ‘Have you drunk it all? Your cup is empty!’
  • Keeping with the theme of mathematical vocabulary, language related to size is something you probably use often, without realising. Think how many times you have said, ‘You’re getting really tall!’, ‘These shoes are too small for you now,’ or ‘Your new coat is a bit big, you’ll grow into it!’
  • Use appropriate words to help your child learn about ordinal numbers, such as ‘We’ll have our tea first and then we’ll go out to play.’ When out at the park, riding bikes for example, find those opportunities to comment, ‘Emily was first in the race, Amirah came second!’
  • Add in time language to general conversations with your child, using words such as next, after that, later, soon. For example, ‘You can brush your teeth after your breakfast,’ or ‘We need to go to the shop before we go to school.’ Modelling this vocabulary, and using it regularly will encourage children to naturally use it in their everyday language.
  • Also include language related to position in your everyday conversations too. If you’re looking for something or encouraging your child to tidy up, ask them ‘Is your book under the bed?’ or ‘Have you looked next to the toy box?’
  • If you enjoy baking with your child, look for those opportunities to talk about what you are doing. For example, when weighing out the ingredients use language such as ‘We need 3 scoops of flour and 2 cups of water.’
  • On the way up to bed, count the stairs. Sometimes, when children move onto counting objects, they may miss out a number, for example ‘1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7…’ By counting the stairs regularly, they have a firm understanding of the order of numbers before they transfer this to counting items.

Simple activities like these are a big part of bringing early maths learning into the home. As our children grow and learn, they will naturally incorporate maths concepts into their play. Lining up toy cars, grouping toys by type or ordering teddies by their size are all examples of mathematical activities that support children’s learning. Effective adult modelling of language, informally and in everyday life, has a huge impact on children’s early mathematical vocabulary and how well they will go on to learn about early concepts – language should never be underestimated.

Source: Classroom Secrets