It is certainly not something I would have consciously thought to do with my baby when they were tiny. I knew that I needed to read to them and play with them but I never, for a minute, considered that I should do maths with them. Nor did I even know what early maths actually looked like or what it was!
But it turns out, unlike feeding your newborn baby sweets, starting maths understanding early is a good thing. Apparently, I was doing maths all along. I just didn’t realise it.
I sang to my new-born
When I sang to my new-born ‘five currant buns’ and ‘Johnny hammers with one hammer’, I was actually beginning to teach them about numbers, they were hearing the language of number. They were hearing the sequence of them and if I used my fingers to demonstrate the numbers, I was also teaching them what that amount looked like, which is known as ‘conservation of number’ (which is a big thing when you get to school!). The repetition that a song gives gave them a chance to hear the language of number again and again in different contexts to enable it to stick.
Collect number songs when you are pregnant
A lot of new parents struggle to remember all those nursery rhymes that were so much part of our childhood. Often the last time they heard them was when they were sung to them as a child. It is a great idea, and a fun activity to do when you are pregnant to collect a list of all of the nursery rhymes and number songs you can. Ask an older adult, perhaps your grandparents can remember songs that have since gone out of fashion. It is such a lovely gift to pass on a song. I have one from each of my grandmothers, which evoke their memory each time they are sung, and my children now have them in their memories and can pass them down to their children when the time comes.
Why is numeracy and maths so important in the early days?
Developing an understanding of numeracy is important during the early years. It lays the foundation for future mathematical understanding. Number games are a good way to introduce these concepts in a fun and relaxed way. They provide repetition of language, a storyline to hang the numbers on to, they often contain actions and the tune makes the words memorable.
What does playing number games and learning number songs do for my baby?
Number games help brain development: Ronald Ferguson from Harvard University is the director of Achievement Gap Initiative states ‘Mathematical knowledge and skills begin to emerge early, as do gaps in skills’.He has been researching the behaviours that affect a child's long-term progress in life. He has identified several activities for parents which will help them support the development of their child and enhance bonding between them. Often as parents we emphasis language-based activities, but the research is now showing us that building an understanding of early mathematical concepts such as number order, sorting, matching, comparing and ordering are the key to later achievement. One way in which to do this is to play number games. These are fun and easy to play. And help a child to lay the foundations for good understanding of numeracy.
If you want an activity to do today for your bump, while you wait for them to arrive, why not do a bit of research and create a list of number songs and games that you will be able to play with your baby when they arrive.
Where can I get more ideas like this?
This is one of the activities from the Oliiki app, it is an app for parents to be, parents of new-borns and parents of toddlers under 2. It gives you simple daily activities to do that, just like this article, help you understand what your baby is getting from seemingly simple activities. Understanding this as a parent helps you be more engaged in their play and helps you understand why your baby is so captivated by the simplest of activities. If you have enjoyed finding out about this, why not download the Oliiki app today and give it a go?