In kindergarten or first grade, your child is typically exposed to different teaching methods to help them learn and become proficient with counting. Children learn as they play. As a parent, however, you can be proactive by using various activities at home before this time to accelerate the learning process.
Cleaning by numbers
Here’s an activity that all parents should involve their young one in from an early age: cleaning up their toys. When the time comes for clean-up, don’t just pick up all the toys yourself and stow them away; get your baby involved! When doing this you can incorporate some number games and thinking. For example, ask your child which playthings make up the biggest part of the mess. Are their more books, more LEGOs? Then you can begin counting each item in a group (1 LEGO, 2 LEGOs, 3 LEGOs, etc.) to see if they guessed right. This ‘game’ could then be made visual. Create a chart listing all the different playthings like action figures, dolls, books, stuffed animals and then keep a running tally each time the items are picked up. This way your child will begin to associate the numbers you have been talking about with the visual figures for the numbers they see on the chart.
Count and color
Get some sheets of paper and some crayons or colored pencils and start an activity where your toddler and you both start by drawing block figures of all the numbers one through ten. Then, mix them up, and let your child choose, and name, the number they are going to color and the one they want you to color. “I am going to color number three and mommy is going to color number seven.” This repetition will be a fun way for them to recognize the visual depiction of each number and the differences between them. An added benefit; the drawing and coloring will help with their hand and eye coordination and develop their artistic skills.
Your little one loves nursery rhymes. So, find some, or create some of your own that involve numbers. Here are a few old-time favorites: “Hickory Dickory Dock” and “Five Little Monkeys.” As you and your child are counting, use your fingers to represent the different numbers. With repetition, your toddler will soon learn that “nine” has more fingers than “five.”
This can be fun and easy, using simple games and strategies to develop your child’s love for numbers. Child development experts generally agree that a parent can begin teaching their child about numbers from the time they are about a year old. You can learn more games for babies that your kids can play on the road trip to grandma’s house. A mix of strategies is sure to keep their short attention span focused on learning while they have fun.