Tips and Tricks to ease math skill development in preschoolers!

Every other day, my son is fumbling while identifying numbers “6” and “9”. Forget about that, having inherited a genetically volatile memory (from my husband) and poor math skills (from me), he is half the time forgetting and getting the identification of numbers all wrong!

Initially, I thought, I should give up and wait till the angelic teacher would do the magic and miraculously cure my son’s mathematical deficiency, but I figured out even she won’t be able to, unless I extended the practice at home.

After all, it is a crucial life skill!

In fact, the other day, I was reading about multiple intelligence, where Mathematical intelligence is one of the crucial intelligences discussed. Although, there are several other intelligences to derive at someone’s smartness, yet Math skill, tops the list for highlighting someone’s intelligence.

Going by this, I don’t want to sound like atypical 70’s parent, but it is still like that!

However, delving deeper into the subject, I figured out that to think systematically, reason out with logic, experiment and quantify, all come under this particular intelligence. Hence, mathematical intelligence is more than numbers!

I was so happy reading about it because I was literally on the verge of thinking that my son was missing out on math with numbers!

Anyway, coming back to this number game and the ways in which you, the helpless parent, like me, can help your child to develop this crucial skill are through some easy to do tricks! These are some tricks, which I practice regularly with my child, to hone those skills. He has done incredibly well, from the time he started and so these tips are worth a try!

Math skills for preschoolers is all about counting, identifying numbers and getting the sync (the verbal and written part) right!

  1. Counting: – Before I begin, let’s understand, that counting is the ability to recite numbers sequentially. In short, the sound of numbers and the sequence of the sounds!
  • Try reciting rhymes to help the child learn about the sounds of the numbers in a more fun and playful manner. Rhymes like This old man, Five little ducks, There were ten in the bed, One two buckle my shoe, all are some sample rhymes to help your kid shake a leg, while learning numbers.
  • Read some fun counting books like Ten Black Dots, over in the meadow, five little monkey (series) etc. In fact, since I was too much in a hurry, I created my own customized version of the counting book. You can see the link here.

“How the numbers grew!” | My Storybook:

  • While waiting for something like in a restaurant or play area or even in a car, have your child count on the go! This could be a fun game as well! Don’t stretch it too much. Try keep the counting part short for up to ten numbers each time. Into this, try and add a new number, every time you practice.
  1. Identifying: – This is where my son stumbles. The ability to visually recognize and name the numbers. These are the tricks that I do with him, to assist him to identify.
  • Since he is obsessed with cars, I make him read the numbers on the number plates of cars. Right from cars, to road signs (speed limits and milestones), to houses and buildings, I make him find numbers everywhere. This even includes gadgets, phones, remote controls etc.
  • I tell him to use lift buttons to decide the floor we have to arrive at! This is a fun activity as he is constantly excited to use those buttons and it serves our purpose well.
  • Teaching him identification through a toy clock or an actual one (provided you don’t have the roman letters on it) is another good way of teaching him about numbers and vaguely about time! I created a fun clock for my child and now he loves to tell me the time as “8 something”! Even a calculator or those toys, which simulate a cash register, is a good way to teach about number identification.
  • I use a set of magnetic numbers, which I have perpetually put them on my refrigerator, to help him play with while I am working in the kitchen. I give him the game of putting them in the sequence, say 11-20 or sometimes tell him to write a particular date.
  • Using play dough or Lego blocks, to construct numbers is a fun way to teach about the structure of digits as well. My son loves play dough and sand activity, so I often take the advantage to teach him the same!
  • To create a much more real life fun experience, I take him to grocery shopping with me, where I let him pick some specific number of apples or bananas. I’m happy for the dual learning he gets and he is simply happy to enjoy a new game called “shopping”!

While doing all this for my son, I made sure I steered clear of those adage “flashcards”. Not that I don’t find them useful, but I might think of using them now, when my son understand the concept of numbers.

One of the flip side of using flashcards first is that it doesn’t ring a bell in the child’s mind. He knows the design of “3” is called “Three”, but it doesn’t mean anything. We need to understand the difference between conceptual development and skill building.

Hence, unless some activities that involves some counting is there, the child won’t register the concept and implication of numbers. One-to-one matching of verbal and written number will get strengthened more with real life counting activities like counting socks, counting steps, counting food items on plate or matching the number of plates with spoons!

Don’t lose heart, if the child is not progressing in terms of the skill. Remember most noted mathematicians also took time to master the art of numbers. Our kids are better off, compared to them, so who knows, there might be that budding mathematician in them, awaiting our help!

It takes a lot of time, patience and a parent’s ingenious ideas, to make a preschooler learn the skill! A lot can be planned and devised to spark that mathematical curiosity and skill in our kids. Trust me, once your child acquires the skill, you will feel on top of this number game!









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