Time to dust off those maths skills (sans calculator) and start teaching your baby or toddler about numbers
He may be too young for times tables, long division and Pythagoras theorem (that’s a2 = b2 + c2 don’t y’know? *cough* Thanks Google…) but it’s not too early to begin introducing your baby to numbers.
It’s about starting with the basics and then moving things on when he becomes a toddler. Get inspired with these educational – but still fun – ideas.
1. Stack ‘em up
Remove the sharp parts from some curtain rings and start demonstrating the idea of quantity to your baby by stacking them up.
‘Also spread the pile out so he can see amounts in different set ups,’ says Claire Burgess, early years consultant at childcare training institute Norland College.
'Spread the pile out so he can see amounts in different set ups'
‘Take a kitchen roll holder or mug tree and let him put the rings on while you count for him.’
With the mug tree, even stick numbered labels to the branches.
2. Go boxing
Finally, a use for those shoe boxes filling up your wardrobe. Gather different sized containers (cardboard, jewellery, chocolate… whatever) and let your baby put them inside each other.
‘This helps him begin to learn about sizes and matching,’ says Claire.
3. Play your cards
Cut up pieces of card and write numbers on them, starting with one to five.
‘Put a corresponding amount of objects on each card, so a sieve on number one, two curtain rings on number two, three spoons on number three,’ says Claire.
‘This encourages your child’s understanding of ordering and sequencing.’
4. Use magnetic numbers
One for toddlers over the age of two. Buy some magnetic fridge numbers and attach them to the base of different size pots and pans.
‘Then, when your child turns each one over to discover a number, say it together and ask him if he can find the same number anywhere else – or even that amount of objects somewhere,’ says Claire.
5. Bring digits in daily
As well as specific games, bring numbers into your child’s every day activities.
‘Count stairs when you’re taking him up and down, sing number nursery rhymes, and count his fingers and toes at bathtime,’ says Claire.
6. Have mealtime maths
Another toddler activity. Have him help you lay the table for meals, talking about how many plates, cups and forks you need.
‘And at snack time, ask him how many grapes he’d like and then count them out,’ says Claire. ‘It’s about making the most of easy opportunities.’
7. Play object hide and seek
Make a game of putting three or four items (to start with) under a blanket or towel. Take one away and ask your toddler to guess what’s missing.
‘Keep counting the objects so he’s gaining a concept of numbers the whole time,’ says Claire.