Getting maths off to a good start can have positive benefits in years to come. Early maths skills in young learners can set the foundations for their attitudes towards the subject later on down the line. Studies have shown time and again that children learn best through play, especially when starting out in school. Learning early maths skills needn’t be a chore. There’s nothing better than seeing young learners really get the best of educational activities, either within school or a home learning environment. Here are 5 ways that children aged 4 – 6 can start exploring their maths skills:
1. Get outdoors
Children can begin counting using a whole host of different products outside. Big numicon is a great way to get children used to counting with this medium.
Even without purchasing mathematical games like these, there are plenty of ways to find objects at home or from local shops and begin using them as a way to get children involved with their learning. From counting objects that children can find out in the garden or playground, like leaves, sticks and flowers, to going on an adventure ‘number hunt’, there are loads of creative ways to get children off to a great start.
2. Use manipulatives
Before children can begin to visualise adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing, using manipulatives are a fun way to begin associating different numbers with physical amounts. Using colourful manipulatives, like dienes, can help children to begin to differentiate between units, tens and hundreds before applying this to the trickier maths later on.
3. Use every day opportunities
As well as having set times during the day to teach maths, it’s also a good idea to incorporate learning into little moments during the day. Asking children to help you with basic tasks helps them to become more aware about using maths outside of the classroom. In the classroom, asking children to count how many pencils, toys, paintbrushes, paints etc. are in a pot, can help you to see their counting skills in action and helps them to apply what they’ve learnt so far.
4. Use colourful and creative resources
When sitting down to learn, it’s easy for young learners to become restless quickly. Having some colourful resources that involve colouring, games and a fun way to recap their maths skills can help to consolidate what they’ve learnt. I’ve included a 20 page Maths skills pack below which is suitable for Grade 1 or Year 1 learners. This pack has engaging activities and is easy for children to use independently
PS: If you’d like an editable version to swap some questions around, just send me an email through my contact page and I’ll send you an editable version.
Last, but not least…
5. Stay positive and use rewards.
Using rewards can be one of the most effective strategies for developing positive attitudes in young learners. Using reward charts, as a class or at home can help children to see the benefit in staying motivated even when a task might become challenging. Intrinsic motivation is also very important. And with the right support and nurturing, I believe that children will begin to internalise the positive feelings from learning something new. However, rewards, like stickers, marbles and certificates can give children a goal to work towards, whilst developing positive attitudes towards early maths learning.