Teaching your preschooler numbers: A simple guide for parents

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Learning numbers is your little preschooler’s first big step towards being confident in maths. At this age, your child certainly shouldn’t be pushed to study mathematics, but it’s more about teaching him fun ways of number recognition and counting.

A lot of parents these days use flash cards in an attempt to kickstart their kids’ knowledge of numbers. But experts say this method might not be effective, as it is devoid of meaning for your little one.

Grace Davila Coates, Program Director of Family Math (Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California at Berkeley) and co-author of Family Math for Young Children explains:

“Many three-year-olds may be able to identify a 3, but they don’t understand what 3 means. It’s important for parents to understand the difference between conceptual learning and skill development.

“Instead of flashcards, look for teachable moments, count things that are familiar to the child as she plays or helps you with simple chores. Counting socks, toy cars, or other toys will maintain her attention and have more meaning for her. Play is learning for three and four-year olds. Follow their interests and create environments that encourage creativity and exploration.”

We love the idea of learning through play and fun and encouraging proper understanding of concepts right from the start. So mums and dads, try these easy as 1-2-3 methods at home with your tots and watch their number skills blossom!

Preschoolers love to sing and listen to music. Use that love to teach numbers!

1. One, two, three…

Teaching your preschooler how to count is the first basic maths skill you can guide them in at home. Here are some ways you can do this:

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Teaching basic maths skills such as learning numbers and counting needn’t be a chore for your kid. Teach these skills through play!

2. What’s that number?

Number recognition is the next math skill appropriate for preschoolers, and is the ability to visually recognize and name numbers.

Here are ways to practise this skill with your child:

  • Go to town with showing and naming numbers! When out and about, show you preschooler numbers on houses, street signs and building. At home, point out and name the numbers on the clock and the phone.
  • Buy two packs of wooden or plastic cut-out numbers and play a game with your little one where he matched pairs of the same number. Also encourage him to put one set in order.
  • Encourage sensory play. Cut out number shapes from sandpaper and gently trace your little one’s fingers along the number, speaking out the name of the number while you do it. You could also do the same with a stick in a sandpit or on the beach.
  • Ask “how many?” often. “How many eyes do you have?”; “How many wheels does this car have?” and so on.

We bring you more fun number activities to do with your tot on the next page.

Activities & Play Home & Lifestyle Preschool Activities