Each week we publish an article that focuses on different aspect of Positive Parenting. Articles are contributed by members of Parenting Limerick, a network of agencies working with parents and families in Limerick city and county.
Over the last two weeks we have brought you advice on how to talk to your children about the Coronavirus. This week we are looking at different ways to take everyday activities and turn them into fun ways to interact with your child.
While baking recently with an enthusiastic 4 year old I suddenly heard 1 egg, bang! 2 eggs bang! 3 eggs bang! 4 eggs bang! Each bang seemed to get louder and the force being put into cracking the eggs got stronger and was accompanied by a hearty laugh. Luckily, most of the eggs landed in the mixing bowl! The experience was an eye opener into how easy it is to help a child’s maths skills while having fun doing an everyday task together. Ok, so baking a cake is not an everyday task but cooking, loading the washing machine, making beds and tidying toys are all fun opportunities to help children learn about maths. You may groan with memories of long division, tables and multiplication but for young children counting, measuring, matching shapes and rolling balls are all fun activities and they don’t even realise they are learning.
So let’s go back to the cake. As you can imagine there were eggs to count (and bang!), fruit to weigh, jugs to empty, cherries to count and power needed to mix. Then there was the long wait – how long would it take to cook and more importantly for the 4 year old was just what are we going to do during the long wait?
There is a lot of research out there that tells us that early maths with young children has a far reaching impact on a child’s maths and reading skills and abilities later on. Isn’t it great to know that that with very little effort from us adults we can make the maths journey for children an easier ride? After all, we have to do these everyday activities, so why not make the sums add up having fun spending time together?
For babies and very young children try singing simple number songs like “one, two buckle your shoe”. At meal times when you offer “more” do you realise your baby is learning about addition and subtraction? Putting words on the actions in physical games such as up, down, near, far helps children learn spatial awareness – big learning for small people!
Make counting aloud part of all your everyday routines for all young children. Count with your child when putting toys away – one car, two dolls, three balls; what you put in your washing machine; the pages as you read the bedtime story and especially your hugs and kisses. Use measurement words throughout the day helping your child to use all their senses to explore: heavy shopping bags, light tissues, long scarves, short walk, high steps, strong smell, soft hat. Begin to use measurement words to compare objects that are bigger, faster, longer or shorter.
Many simple moments occur during each day that can easily be turned into opportunities to build your growing child’s maths skills. You can help your child understand concepts and develop skills that will last a life time.
This article was contributed by Sue McGlone is Parent Support Programme Manager with Tusla in the Mid West and a member of Parenting Limerick. Parenting Limerick is a network of parenting and family support organisations. For up to date and accurate information and advice on COVID-19 go to www.hse.ie/coronavirus.