These are skills that lead to mathematical thinking, for example, about colour, size and shapes; about classifying and balance; and about numbers and counting; symmetry and balance.
How can you help your baby develop mathematical skills?
For very young children, developing mathematical skills can be as simple as singing songs with numbers, such as Five Little Ducks, or No More Monkeys Jumping On the Bed, or the PlaySchool classic Roll Over, Roll Over. Use your fingers to show baby how the number of monkeys reduces every time one of them bumps his head!
Use numbers while you’re chatting to baby about everyday objects, “Look, there are three birds in the sky,” or “Mummy has two apples, one for you and one for me.” These are very simple mathematical principles.
As baby learns to walk, you can count steps with her.
Count objects at the supermarket, one banana, two bananas, etc., or the number of trees in your garden.
Start teaching baby to count. Although she won’t have any idea of the concept to begin with, you can teach baby the numbers by singing or chanting them with her.
Sort objects around the house. Your toddler can help match socks, for example. Be sure not to overwhelm her by giving her too many at a time, and gradually increase as she becomes more proficient.
Read stories together and classify objects in the story. Which is the biggest billy goat? Which is the smallest tree?
Play shape games with blocks and puzzles. Teach your baby the names of the shapes, then once she has started to pick them up, find shapes around the house. The TV is a rectangle, the plate is a circle, etc.
Mix and match patterns with household objects. It could be different coloured pegs, that you lay red, white, blue, red, white, blue. Then ask your toddler to continue the pattern.
Begin teaching number recognition, with flashcards or magnets, or a jigsaw puzzle. As your toddler becomes more proficient, practice number recognition while you’re out in the car or at the supermarket.
Play Snap with Uno cards. These are ideal, as the numbers are large, and children love the snapping and shouting of snap, and don’t realise that they’re learning numbers as they simply want to play.
When your toddler is recognizing numbers, why not try games like dot to dot? This is great practice for sequential numbering.
Older children can help with measuring ingredients while you are cooking.
Mathematical concepts are all around us. Involving children with everyday activities and explaining to them what you are doing will give them a head start on grasping mathematical concepts.