We all use number skills through the course of every day. It is impossible not to, whether it's estimating the time it will take to get to places, working out money change, or laying the table for the...

We all use number skills through the course of every day. It is impossible not to, whether it's estimating the time it will take to get to places, working out money change, or laying the table for the right number of people. In an increasingly technological age it is the backbone of many of the ways we operate in today's society. Everywhere we look we see numbers in action. We can notice shape, the organization of space and measurement all around us. Mathematics provides logic, structure and order to the universe and underpins all scientific theory. In order to build and make things, we have to be able to estimate and measure up materials. We, also, have to be able to order them in the right quantities, and so on.
Although we now have many helpful additions to the mathematical process such as calculators and computers, children still need to understand underlying mathematical concepts in order to use them effectively. This means using mathematical concepts in the everyday practical world as well as transferring them into symbols, diagrams, words and numbers on paper.
There are many everyday ways in which we can support the development of mathematical thinking. For example, laying the table (working out how many forks, knives, glasses, etc. are needed for each person), counting loose change, shopping, singing counting songs, and timing how long it takes for a child to complete a task. We can also get children to measure and weigh things -cooking can be a very good opportunity to practice math in an enjoyable way.
When it comes to learning tables, there are good musical tapes on the market that you and your child can sing along to. Practicing tables when you are going along in the car can be fun. Take it in turns to say the next line.
We can also get our children to notice shapes in the environment around them - how many squares, circles and triangles can they notice on the way to the shops or going along in the car?
Helping sort different types of groceries into different cupboards or the fridge is a sorting activity that defines objects into different areas. If children have to 'share' some sweets with siblings, then they will have to work out how everyone gets an equal amount (or there will be trouble!). Whenever an opportunity arises for children to be involved in the everyday math of home, then you as a parent can utilize these opportunities to improve their mathematical thinking.
Games can also be a good way of learning numbers. Snakes and Ladders involves counting up and down. All double-dice games involve counting. There is a good counting game for very young children called 'Ladybirds', which involves counting dice and ladybirds in order to win.
Telling the time is another essential mathematical concept. Buy a big clock for the kitchen or their bedroom and get them to tell you the time starting with 'on the hour'. You can then ask questions such as: 'How long have we got before we have to leave for school if we are leaving at 8.30?' when they are a little older.
Fractions can be demonstrated in a practical way when we have to divide a cake or tart into the necessary portions to serve the number of people present. You can then ask children what fraction of the cake they have got if there are eight pieces.

Article Tags: Number Skills

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