Here are two simple equations:
- 2 + 2 = 4
- Young minds + maths = good idea
Mathematics is a fundamental skill that plays a crucial role in shaping a child’s educational foundation. It is not just about numbers and equations; it’s about problem-solving, critical thinking, and logical reasoning. Knowing how to introduce maths to your toddler or child can open up a world of opportunities for them, empowering them to tackle challenges with confidence and navigate the complexities of everyday life.
In this article, we’ll explore why it’s important to teach children maths and provide some creative ideas to make teaching maths to kids more fun and engaging.
Why is it important to teach kids maths?
Maths is not just confined to the classroom; it exists in every aspect of our lives. From managing money, making informed decisions to understanding data and technology, maths is an essential tool. It helps children to think critically, analyse situations and solve problems efficiently. All of these essential life skills help pave the way for future academic and career success.
But maths isn’t just just a practical skill. Teaching maths to children actively enhances their cognitive development. It stimulates their brains, promotes memory retention, and sharpens analytical thinking. As children work through maths problems, they learn to be patient, persistent and resilient in the face of challenges. These skills are transferable to almost every other aspect of life and contribute to well-rounded personal growth.
Important maths milestones for kids
As children progress through their education, they encounter key maths milestones. When considering how to teach counting and maths to children, it’s important to keep an eye out for these milestones, which include:
- Understanding numbers: This includes recognising and counting numbers from 1 to 10 and beyond. At this stage, children begin to grasp the concept of quantity and the order of numbers.
- Basic arithmetic: Children typically start with simple additions and subtractions using concrete objects, like counting apples or blocks. They learn the concepts of “more” and “less” and begin to understand the relationship between numbers.
- Fractions and decimals: As children advance, they are introduced to fractions and decimals. While this may seem complex, it’s done gradually and with practical examples. Children learn about halves, quarters, and tenths, gaining an understanding of parts of a whole.
- Geometry: Geometry comes into play as children delve into the world of shapes, sizes, and spatial relationships. They learn to identify and classify basic shapes like circles, triangles, and squares.
Algebra: While algebra may sound advanced, early algebraic thinking involves understanding patterns and relationships. Children learn to identify and predict patterns, helping them solve simple equations like “2 + ? = 5” or 1 + 1 = ?”.
Ideas for teaching kids maths
Need some inspiration for fun ideas on how to teach kids maths? Here are some practical strategies for teaching children mathematics:
Count everyday objects
Counting everyday objects is a simple yet effective way to introduce maths to young children. These counting activity ideas make maths more tangible and relatable:
- Toys: Encourage your child to count their toys or group them by type or colour.
- Fruits and vegetables: When you’re at the grocery store or in your kitchen, have your child count the number of fruits or vegetables in a bag or on a table. You can also use this opportunity to discuss concepts like “more” and “less” based on the quantity.
- Steps: Counting steps while climbing stairs or taking a walk is an excellent way to incorporate maths into physical activities. You can introduce concepts like addition and subtraction by asking questions like, “If we climb 10 more steps, how many will we have climbed in total?”
- Fingers: Counting fingers is an easy and engaging strategy to use when teaching babies to count. Start with simple counting and then progress to addition and subtraction, using fingers as visual aids.
Counting games help learning make maths more enjoyable while simultaneously developing observation skills and cognitive abilities. Here are some popular counting games:
- Scavenger hunts: Create scavenger hunts with lists of items for your child to find. They’ll need to locate each item and tick them off the list to complete the game, which involves counting and careful observation.
- Counting with blocks: Use building blocks or LEGO bricks to teach counting through construction play. Have your child stack or arrange the blocks in specific patterns, and then count them together.
- Counting with playdough: Make small playdough balls and ask your child to roll them into tiny objects (e.g., animals or fruit). Then, count the objects together.
- Counting nature Items: While on a nature walk, have your child collect leaves, sticks, or rocks and count them when you get back home.
- Hopscotch: Create a simple hopscotch grid using chalk or tape. Assign numbers to each square and have your child hop on one foot, counting the squares they land on.
Maths-themed books are a fantastic resource for teaching children as they blend storytelling with mathematical concepts, making learning more entertaining. By exploring these books with your child, you can make maths an important part of their daily routine:
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
- One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr Seuss
- Bush Mob Counting by Helen Milroy
- How Do Dinosaurs Count to 10? by Jane Yolen
- The Crayons’ Book of Numbers by Drew Daywalt
- Ten Little Owls by Renee Treml
- Goodnight, Numbers by Danica McKellar
- 10 Cats by Emily Gravett
Shopping and cooking
Incorporating maths into everyday tasks, like grocery shopping and cooking, offers a practical way to apply mathematical skills. Here’s how you can incorporate maths into these activities:
- Grocery Shopping: Involve your child in grocery shopping by having them estimate the cost of items, calculate the total cost as you shop, and discuss concepts like saving money.
- Cooking: While cooking together, your child can learn about measurements, fractions, and proportions. They can help measure ingredients and understand the relationship between different quantities.
Songs and rhymes
Maths songs and rhymes provide an interactive and memorable way to teach mathematical concepts. The rhythm and repetition in music make learning fun and engaging. Here are some examples of maths songs and rhymes:
- “Ten in the Bed”: This song helps children count down from ten as stuffed animals fall out of bed one by one.
- “Five Little Ducks”: Children can practise subtraction as they follow the adventures of five little ducks going out and coming back.
- Multiplication Tables Songs: Countless songs are available for learning multiplication tables, making the process of memorisation more enjoyable.
Maths games make learning maths entertaining while also improving problem-solving, critical thinking, and strategic planning. Here are some examples of fun maths games for children:
- Number Recognition with Flashcards: Create colourful flashcards with numbers and corresponding objects. One card might have the number 3 and three apples. Show the cards to your child and encourage them to identify the number and count the objects.
- Number Bingo: Play a simplified version of Bingo using numbers. This game helps children recognise and match numbers.
- Dominoes: Use large, colourful dominoes with dots that represent numbers. Play a simplified version of the game where your child matches the number of dots on each domino to another domino with the same number of dots.
- Measurement Play: Give your child simple measuring tools, like a ruler or tape measure. Ask them to measure various objects in the house, comparing the lengths and discussing concepts like longer and shorter.
- Shape Sorting: Provide a variety of shapes (circles, triangles, squares, etc.) and have your child sort them into different piles based on their shape.
Maths is more than just equations; it’s a vital skill that empowers children to thrive in the modern world. By following creative strategies when teaching maths to kids, you can help your child not only grasp mathematical concepts but also develop a genuine love for learning.
At Aurrum Kids, maths plays a crucial role in our educational approach. We believe that a strong foundation in mathematics is essential for a child’s overall development, and we incorporate maths into our curriculum in various creative and engaging ways. Our goal is to make maths enjoyable and relatable for young learners, fostering a love for numbers and problem-solving from an early age.
If you’d like to know more about how we encourage curiosity and a growth mindset at our childcare centres, get in touch with our team today and book a tour.