In this article, we’ll look at how toddlers can learn to master the art of counting and why it’s important for them to do so early in their lives. To put the importance of counting in perspective …
“Children with good numeracy skills are more likely to earn more, stay in education longer and have more chance of actually being in work when they grow up.” (BBC)
This makes total sense, of course, but how can parents and carers of young children help?
Teaching toddlers to learn how to count to ten by the age of two, or thereabouts, is a good start. Learning to count early in life will lay a good foundation for the further comprehension and advancement of maths when they’re a little older.
Learning to Count Naturally — or By Rote
The good news is that, generally speaking, children seem to have a built-in capacity for counting and a natural mathematical ability. This should be no surprise because, after all, numbers are all around them. For example, counting and numbers are in songs, nursery rhymes, toys, games, patterns found in nature, dates, events, on TV and really just about everywhere when you think about it. Most activities involve numbers. For example, preparing food requires the underlying use of numbers and/or counting. This can be verbalised to help a child grasp the concept. Even doing a puzzle can involve some counting. Shopping clearly involves numbers, counting and simple maths. The start of any game can also be ‘counted in’ with a “1 … 2 … 3 … GO!” or even commenced after a count-down from 10 to zero, and so on. Because of the fun, natural ways that counting can be introduced, children will naturally pick up the concept when they’re little and actually enjoy the learning journey.
Many children will also learn and master their counting skills by ‘rote’ or, in other words, by the child repeating the count from 1 to 10 (or more) many times until it “sticks” in their memory. Parents can help with this by joining in initially and later prompting children only if they get the order wrong or miss a number out when counting on their own.
On average, most children will learn how to count to 10 by the age of two. They may not fully understand the significance of the numbers, though, until they are between two and four years old.
Parents can have a massive and profound positive effect on children’s learning and development generally — so much so that the benefits of their proactive input can have life-long positive impacts on children’s lives. Our last post went into some detail about that and it’s true, too, when it comes to helping children learn to count.
Once counting is successfully engrained in children’s memories, the comprehension of the significance of numbers usually comes quite naturally, particularly with that help from adults. Counting skills will gradually lead to maths skills like simple addition, subtraction, division and so on.
Adults need to be proactive in engaging children around these subjects, jumping on any opportunity to bring such topics into everyday activities, particularly when they can be made into a game or fun activity.
Give Praise & Be Positive
Giving praise can have an enormous positive effect on the child’s success and understanding around numeracy. Knowing when they’re getting it right or wrong — and why — will build up their early numeracy skills and make them more confident around numbers. In contrast, letting on if you don’t like maths yourself, as a parent, will not usually encourage them. Indeed, it may even give them an excuse to give up before they’ve really tried properly.
Once children master numeracy skills in their pre-school years, they will also be more likely to hit the ground running when they start school. So the message to parents, carers and childcare settings is to make it fun, be proactive and look for as many learning opportunities around numbers as possible. In our later post, we suggest some fun counting and maths-based games to help children improve their numeracy skills when at home (click the bold link for details).
Counting, Maths & Numeracy at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery
Maths and numeracy are key topics at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery in Edgbaston, Birmingham. Our curriculum is based on the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework and, as such, includes special attention towards mathematics. Children at the nursery are encouraged to count and to understand numbers, simple addition, subtraction and the relationship between different numbers. Which is smaller? Which is larger? What happens if you add two numbers together? What happens if you take 2 away? Who came fourth in the race? … And so on. They are also taught to write numbers, of course.
Countdown to Numeracy
Our childcare professionals also encourage children to recognise numbers and maths within their surroundings and in the world around them. Numbers might be hidden in everyday objects or they might be useful when, for example, ensuring that friends at the nursery are given the same number of toys, peas in a meal or counters in a game. The children will gradually start to notice these things naturally, because they’ve been encouraged to do so. More complex numeracy skills will start to follow naturally. The EYFS curriculum at the childcare setting also ensures that children recognise the numbers and maths involved in the size, weight and volume of things around them. Measurements of distance, time and money are covered along with concepts like halving, sharing equally (or not), doubling and so on. A wide array of interactive equipment and activities are also used at the nursery to help children improve upon their numeracy skills. By the time they leave at age 5, they are thoroughly prepared to begin their formal education at school.
A nursery place for your baby or child in Edgbaston, Birmingham
Are you looking for nursery places in Birmingham or Edgbaston or near to Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood or Smethwick? Leaps & Bounds is an outstanding nursery and pre-school offering daytime childcare and early years education in Edgbaston near Birmingham. We currently have a small amount of spaces available for babies, toddlers and children aged up to five, so do get in touch before the spaces are filled. We’ll be happy to tell you more. Call 0121 246 4922 for more details or contact us / book a visit here.