Supporting Numeracy in The Early Years

Let’s start from the very beginning, I’ve heard it’s a very good place to start!

What is numeracy? Numeracy is about having an understanding of mathematical concepts and how they work in the world around us. Let’s imagine sharing biscuits on a plate, a child with numeracy skills will automatically divide them equally between the biscuit-party-people, demonstrating their understanding of counting, division and problem solving.

Developing a child’s numeracy skills in the early years not only assists them in their future formal education, it also assists them in understanding the world around them, the development of general problem solving and prepares them for daily life.

Connetix is a resource that can support the early development of numeracy skills, both at home and in an early learning center setting. Let me outline a few simple ways that YOU can increase your child’s numeracy skills:
Please note mathematics skills and numeracy skills are not the same, although related and somewhat intertwined they are different! Children may have great mathematics skills but are not numerate until they can apply these skills in a wide range of situations.

Language in play

No matter what you are doing, how you are playing or where you are, this one can be implemented. Language in play is valuable to not only build vocabulary but increase listening skills, assist cognitive development and early numeracy skills. Use phrases such as ‘next to’, ‘on-top of’ and ‘underneath’ to develop positional language skills, which children are often assessed on at school.
Using language that describes the size and features of the tiles, such as; big, small, orange or green, is also beneficial in developing sorting and categorising skills which is important in early numeracy.
By just talking YOU are helping your child develop vital skills, what a win!

 

Trace a shape

Starting to recognise numbers and shapes can happen in all aspects of your child’s life, from noticing the round clock to the square shape of their sandwich. Tracing the shapes of Connetix, helps them develop a deeper understanding of the shapes and their features PLUS it encourages them to hold a pencil which is great for hand-eye-coordination and fine motor skills.

 

Counting

This sounds simple and in essence it is BUT there is more than just 1-2-3-4-5. Counting, for counting sake is a great way to teach the counting sequence, it is rote counting. Whilst rote counting is a great introduction, let’s take our little learners to the next level and encourage 1:1 correspondence, this is when the number is associated with an object. Children often show this stage by pointing to objects as they count them, not saying the next number until they touch the next object. 1:1 counting shows a true understanding of the number system and the value of a number – pretty impressive huh!

Hunting

Being able to recognise, identify and describe basic features of an object falls under the classification umbrella of early math skills. Connetix is wonderful because there are so many different ways to sort them. Such as:

  • Colour – can you find all the red tiles?
  • Shapes – Can you find all the squares? Triangles? Hexagons?
  • Size – Can you sort the large squares from the small squares?
  • Advanced shapes – Can you sort the triangles? Right angle triangles, isosceles triangles and equilateral triangles!

When we talk about advanced shape matching, not only do children get exposed to some wonderful vocabulary they can also check their work as they go. An equilateral triangle does not stack well on a right angle triangle, this then gives them confidence in a potentially tricky task!

Measuring

Using informal units of measurement with your child is another great way to develop their understanding of maths, measurement and patterns, essentially building their numeracy skills! Once you have measured each other you can compare sizes, count the shapes, try with different shapes and different objects.
Measuring with Connetix also happens all on its own, children identify the different lengths of the sides of the shapes. They do this as they build towers and work out which shapes tessellate best!

Build a tower of squares

This is a winner, no matter who you are! Simply building a tower with squares is engaging and exciting to see how high you can build! That famous line ‘I need more squares’ is actually very powerful. It leads children into a problem solving situation, potentially discovering that two right angle triangles make a square! Through building these towers they are able to develop mathematical terminology and understand, apply it to their reality and increase their awareness of shapes! Some ways to switch up the basic tower build you can:

  • Give them 10 squares, how many different ways can you build a tower?
  • Can you build a tower taller than your favourite toy? What about smaller than your favourite toy?
  • Can you add rooms in your tower for small figurines?
  • Start with a hexagonal base, it changes the overall structure!

 

 

Harnessing the power of play to teach early numeracy skills is incredibly effective.

When you were reading that, did you get flashbacks of past-play experiences that have occurred under your care? Your children are naturally curious, they are investigators and explorers. They also have an innate understanding of numbers and how things work, by simply providing them with powerful resources and a splash of adult support magic can happen.

Numeracy is a skill that we ALL use in our everyday life, from comparing prices at the supermarket, to cutting sandwiches into fractions, we are mathematical beings. Supporting our children to incidentally learn these skills, and develop mathematical mindset is a great way to prepare them for challenges of everyday life!

Connetix is such a valuable resource in supporting early numeracy skills because of the simplistic designs. The designs encompass basic shapes, allow for 2D and 3D representations of shapes, provide children an opportunity to interact with the shapes, they are beautifully coloured which is not only engaging but it allows for categorising. These magnetic tiles also lend themself beautifully to counting, all in playful and seemingly incidental play!

For children, they are able to learn without realising they’re learning and for the adults they are teaching without deliberately teaching. Now that is a win!

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