Simplifying early years maths concepts for your kids
More advanced knowledge of early brain development has completely transformed the way we teach maths to preschoolers. We now appreciate that for them to understand early years maths concepts, young kids need to explore and play with physical objects. This relationship is because numbers are abstract symbols, and for preschoolers to learn to hold abstract ideas in their minds, they first need to learn to tie those symbols to the real-world physical objects.
Using counting games
Children use early years maths skills in almost all their everyday activities. The line between their daily play activities and mathematics is extremely blurred. Early years maths does not necessarily mean strict help with homework during what should be playtime. With just a few counting and sorting toys, and a little planning, you can easily provide your child with a firm EYFS maths foundation.
Early years maths games provide children with a platform to assess problems and engage in problem-solving. These activities contribute to their cognitive development by stretching their brains. Even before starting preschool, children can have a basic grasp of addition and subtraction concepts from playing with number toys and counting games.
It’s essential for early years maths activities to be fun and relatable to a child’s everyday life experiences, such as learning how to count the number of ice-cream scoops, and then using these skills when you buy ice-cream. You can use a variety of number toys like a calculator cash-box, some play money, and different types of fruit, to create fun counting games that teach your kids basic financial math concepts. Counting games also help your child to understand size, shape, and patterns, as well as other important math concepts such as sorting and creating sets.
Sorting & stacking toys
Sorting & stacking toys is a natural part of a child’s development. This manual sorting and sifting of objects shows that your child is figuring out what goes together, how things move, how the world works. Sorting stuff also develops early math skills. Blocks are great for sorting by size, shape, and colour. You can even try to focus the sorting and stacking activities towards encouraging your kids to clean up their rooms and play spaces.
Kids also like balancing objects atop one another to create tall structures. Sorting & stacking toys in this way develops kids’ hand-eye coordination and teaches them complex concepts in geometry such as balance and symmetry. It is also beneficial because, during block-stacking, toddlers have the opportunity to develop their concentration skills than with other simpler activities.
Sorting & stacking toys can also help to boost a child’s memory and concentration. While interlocking cube blocks are the easiest for stacking, objects that have different shapes and sizes offer unique challenges that allow your child to build a variety of structures. You can introduce a different dimension to stacking games by having your child fold 2D/3D geometric solids before they start stacking.
As kids grow older, they develop more advanced mathematical skills. They will first learn to count verbally (first forward, then backwards), recognise and match spelt numbers and numerals, identify more and less of a quantity, and understanding matching sets. A more complex skill that they learn next is the ability to see relationships between numbers—like adding, subtracting, and multiplying.
You can help provide your child with a strong EYFS maths foundation by introducing more advanced number toys. It is also essential to give kids an early start in learning to measure the weight, height, and depth of objects. Learning to tell the time is another skill that will teach them early time management skills.
Teaching mathematical concepts through pretend play is a fun way to help your kids apply them in the real world. You can have your child set out a pretend picnic. Help them count the number of family members that they are setting the picnic for and match them to the number of plates and cups they lay out.
The combination of teddy numbers and teddy bear counters is a great way to teach children about size and weight estimation. The scale is perfect for measuring liquids or dry items, estimating, comparisons and contrasting. These bears have varying weights and are ideal for learning about the relationship between size and weight. Picking and manipulating the small pieces of bears also develops a child’s fine motor skills.
Children initially find it very difficult to make estimations. You can help by showing them how the smaller bears balance with fewer big bears. You can use this opportunity to teach your child the meaning of words like more, less, bigger than, and smaller than. This set of weighted teddy bear counters, is ideal for counting games, sorting, creating patterns and teaching simple EYFS maths processes, such as addition and subtraction.