Tag Archive for: numeracy

Rough Guide to Dyslexia in Under-Fives

Dyslexia can really hold children back, particularly if not diagnosed earlyDyslexia can really hold children back. Because it affects children’s ability to read and write, it can adversely affect their overall education and impede their life chances once they’re older. That’s despite the fact that many dyslexic children are highly intelligent individuals with no other limiting conditions. As such, it’s a very unfair affliction for children to have to deal with. Thank goodness, though, modern society has recognised the condition and education professionals and parents now have a much clearer picture of both the early signs of dyslexia and the measures available to help children affected by it.

What is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is summed up most simply by the 19th Century description of it. Back then, it was known simply as word blindness although it was not as well understood then as it is today.

“Dyslexia is a learning difficulty that primarily affects the skills involved in accurate and fluent word reading and spelling” — Definition of dyslexia by the 2009 Rose Committee Report2, as recognised by the Department for Education

How Does Dyslexia Affect Children?

With dyslexia, words and letters are often described as ‘jumbling up’ or ‘moving around’ in such a way that they are unintelligibleTo give those without the condition an idea of its effects, words and letters are often described as ‘jumbling up’ or ‘moving around’ in such a way that they are unintelligible. Clearly they are not physically moving in reality, though — the condition is a neurobiological one.

Clearly, such difficulties will, in turn, adversely affect children’s reading, writing, spelling, comprehension and general ability to learn. That combination represents quite a challenge for pupils, education professionals and parents. It can also severely limit children’s confidence in themselves and make them feel isolated and ‘different’. So, it’s incredibly important to diagnose dyslexia in children as early as possible.

Possible Symptoms of Dyslexia

Dyslexia ‘symptoms’ (for want of a better term) vary from individual to individual, so are not clear cut. However, parents and early years/education professionals should look out for the following:

  • Children struggling to learn the alphabet, and having limited interest in doing so;
  • Children struggling to remember the order of things like days of the week, months of the year, etc;
  • Children having difficulty recognising the sounds of individual letters;
  • Children having difficulty recognising combinations of letters as sounds within words;
  • Children having trouble with phonetics and spelling generally;
  • Children having difficulty reading and writing;
  • Children mispronouncing multi-syllable words and jumbling the order of some of them;
  • Children having difficulties with the concept of rhyming words;
  • Slower than expected speech development;
  • Children giving good verbal answers to questions, but poor written ones;
  • Children struggling to follow the order of even a short list of instructions requested of them, but being able to complete the tasks if individual steps were given to them separately, one at a time;
  • Interestingly, sometimes unexpected difficulty with the fine motor skills required to maintain a consistent rhythm, e.g. on a drum or cymbal;

Assessment

We should add, though, that any instances of the above do not necessarily mean that a child is dyslexic as many young children struggle from time to time with some of the issues shown. For a proper diagnosis, official assessments are available.

Is there a Cure for Dyslexia?

There is no cure for dyslexia, but it's adverse effects can be mitigated and the earlier diagnosis is made, the betterThere is no cure for dyslexia, but it’s adverse effects can be mitigated and the earlier diagnosis is made, the better. Once diagnosed, parents, nursery/pre-school staff and education professionals can put measures in place to help the child cope and indeed overcome many of the barriers that dyslexia presents. It’s also heartening to note that many dyslexic children end up absolutely excelling in other areas:

“The strengths of [dyslexic] individuals can be many and varied: these can include artistic/design skills, verbal/visual creativity, and an original way of visualising/solving problems.” — The British Dyslexia Association (BDA)

Dyslexia & SpLD at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery

Children with Dyslexia and other Specific Learning Difficulties (‘SpLD’) are well catered for at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery. Indeed, we have our own, qualified, Special Education Needs Coordinator (‘SENCo’) at the setting. Leaps & Bounds Nursery has its own, qualified, Special Education Needs Coordinator (‘SENCo’)As a matter of course, our nursery staff will look out for possible signs of dyslexia and other SpLDs. We will discuss any concerns with parents and take appropriate action whenever required. If positively diagnosed, our tailored programme for learning and development will build in measures to help any children affected, in any way we can. These are bespoke programmes that are made-to-measure for each individual, so making allowances for SpLDs is all part and parcel of what we do at the nursery.

Nursery Places Available in Edgbaston, Birmingham

Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston, Birmingham B16Please get in touch if you are looking for nursery places in Edgbaston or near Birmingham, Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood or Smethwick. We offer the highest quality weekday childcare for babies, toddlers and under-fives and are also one of the few Forest Schools in the Birmingham area. These are great if you would like your child to enjoy and learn from everything nature and the outdoors has to offer.

Interested? Please call 0121 246 4922 or contact us here. We can’t wait to tell you more and to show you and your little one around!

2: The Rose Report (2009): Report on Identifying and Teaching Children and Young People with Dyslexia and Literacy Difficulties. DCFS Publications (Ref DCSF-00659-2009)

Fun Counting Activities for Under-5s
Giving children an early start with their numeracy is shown to increase outcomes for them generallyIn our last blog post we discussed how young children can and should be encouraged to master the art of counting early in their lives — ideally in their pre-school years. To recap in brief, giving them an early start with their numeracy is shown to increase outcomes for them generally, including a greater likelihood of staying in education for longer, a better chance of finding a job when they leave education and increased earning potential during their adult careers. The article also reminded readers of the profound importance of parental involvement in their children’s educations.

Here in this new post, we follow up with some fun number, counting and maths-based games and activities that preschoolers can enjoy at home with parents. These will make counting and numeracy fun for under-fives. After all, learning through play really is the best way for them to learn. Indeed, we use precisely that approach ourselves, at the nursery here in Birmingham.

Making numbers look like characters makes them more fun‘Number Order’ Games

Get your child to write numbers (e.g. between 1 and 10 or 1 and 20), each one going on a different sheet of paper. These can be small sheets, perhaps the size of playing cards, or A6 (a quarter of A4). The numbers can be simple or fancy — perhaps you and your child could get creative and make it colourful and illustrative, so it’s more fun. Numbers could even represent animals or characters, with faces, like our example. Once you have separate numbers on separate sheets, jumble them up and ask your child to put them into the right order. You could ask them to order them first from 1 upwards (perhaps start with 1 to 5 initially), then later in reverse order. Work your way up to 20 or more once the child is doing well. Soon counting will be second nature. Check how they do and help point them in the right direction if needed. Consider giving your child a reward for good effort.

Reward your child for good effort.

When they’re more advanced or a little older, you could even introduce simple addition and subtraction or progress to simple multiplication and division.

‘Number Matching’ Games

‘Number Matching’ Game: Dominoes

Helping very young children to learn how to match numbers or quantities will be very helpful as it’ll help them understand the concept in the real world. One of the very best ways to introduce this is to teach them how to play dominoes. With this game, the number or dots needs to match on adjoining dominoes, so it really is a simple, fun and effective way to introduce the concept of matching numbers or quantities to children. It’ll help children count more confidently and be able to recognise the number of dots instantly, after a little time practising. And, if you don’t have any dominoes, they’re easy to make on bits of paper or card and indeed children may enjoy making them. Dice are another option.

‘One More or One Less’ Activities

Activities that encourage children to work out whether something has one more or less than something else are a great way to introduce maths terminology into children’s vocabulary. They also help young children to grasp simple mathematical concepts. For example:

  • Learning mathematical terminogy through playAs a first introduction to the very young, make two equal stacks of small, stackable objects (e.g. dominoes, biscuits, coins, empty matchboxes, counters from a draughts game or building blocks — anything, really, so long as it stacks nicely and has a visible thickness). Ask the child to take away one object from a pile, then ask them to tell you which is taller and which is shorter. Also ask the child to count the stacks to tell you how many items are in each. Maybe add or subtract one more item from a pile and repeat.
  • You can do something similar with non-stackable items, for example, fruit. These can be made into less regimented piles rather than stacks. Ask your child to count the items in each pile so that they can ensure that one pile contains one extra item compared to the other. Ask them which pile is larger or taller and which is smaller or shorter. Piles of objects are also a good opportunity to get the child to grasp the concept of estimating.

    Counting fruit in a game of shops

    Once they’ve estimated, they can then count the objects to see how close they were to the right answer. Estimating will be another mathematical term that they now understand and they’ll also have had counting practice to boot.

  • Still working with two piles of objects, ask which one has more and which has less than the other. This is a simple first step towards the concept of addition and subtraction.
  • A similar activity can also be set on top of some weighing scales. Ask the child which pile is heaviest and which is lightest. Adding the element of a readable number, visible on the scales, also gives them a visual link between numbers and quantities of real-life objects.

Play ‘Shops’

All of the concepts above can now easily be put into practice via a game of ‘shops’. Toddlers and children will love pretending to be either the shopkeeper or the shopper. The shop “products” will, of course, need to be counted at the checkout and some items may need weighing — for example vegetables or fruit. Playing shops will focus a child’s mind on the importance of counting and number accuracy at the same time as introducing simple concepts like addition, subtraction, multiplication and even money. Such activities are great ways to teach children about simple maths terminology, in preparation for more complex mathematical challenges when they’re a little older.

Praise Them

Praise children when they put in a good effort, not just when they get it right

However well or badly your child does with the number activities and games, praise their effort when they’re trying. Help them when they get it wrong and try to explain things to them. They’ll pick things up if the mood is light but scolding them when they get it wrong may well put them off numbers and maths completely. As we said in our original article last month, try not to ‘imprint’ any hatred of maths that you might have onto them and don’t ever say anything like ‘I was never any good at maths at your age’ as it may give them an excuse not to fully commit to trying. However well they’ve done in activities and games like the above, always praise them for putting in a good effort. As we said previously, rewarding effort is important and is more likely to encourage them to return to the activities with enthusiasm in the future.

Going Forwards

Start children early on numbers & maths - it'll set the up well for when they're older, at schoolChildren who enjoy maths are usually those who like to learn generally. So, try to encourage young children to bring maths into every day activities. For example, counting their steps on a walk, counting stairs as they go up or down them, counting cars passing and so on. It makes it more fun and they’ll learn to enjoy challenges. Before you know it they’ll be a bit older, coping with numbers will become second nature, and they’ll be nicely prepared for more advanced mathematics at school. You’ll then be able to interact with them in more complex number-based games. Ultimately, these might involve multiplication, where you can test them on their times tables, and eventually division, fractions, algebra and more. It all starts with simple counting, though, so it’s important to make a start early, so they’re not held back.

Count on Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston, Birmingham

If you are looking for outstanding nurseries, pre-schools and childcare in Edgbaston, or Birmingham, please consider Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery. We are a high quality nursery and pre-school in Edgbaston (B16), near Birmingham, Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood and Smethwick. We too encourage our toddlers and under-fives with their counting and numeracy using a wide variety of activities, toys, games and interactive equipment. It’s a key part of the curriculum at the setting, in fact. So, by the time they leave us around the age of 5, they are ‘school ready’ with a great grounding and, as such, should enjoy a smooth transition. If our Edgbaston nursery/pre-school is of potential interest, please call 0121 246 4922 for more details, contact us, or book a visit here. Spaces are limited but, at time of writing, we have just a few available places for babies, toddlers and children aged up to five.

Introducing Counting for Toddlers
Counting is more fun when it's part of a gameIn 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

Numbers are all around us

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.

Parental Influence

Parents can make a huge positive impact on children's learning

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

Learning to count for children

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

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.

Numbers can be part of games & activities

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.