Have you ever thought of this: To be able to do maths, your child has to know:
- his body parts
- his left and right sides (important: to really know it, he will also know it when he turns into another direction)
- the basic concepts: before / after; in front of / at the back; on top of / below; next to; between /; more / less; left / right; under; underneath; bigger / smaller; etc.
How to teach these basic concepts to your child:
Always start with three-dimentional games, which means your child's body is involved:
- Play with your child and give him instructions like "Stand next to Sam". "Sit on the picnic table". "Stand between the swing and the slide. "Kick the biggest ball". "Stand on one leg at the left side of the (play) house."
After your child has mastered the three dimentional games, move on to more complex activities, which implies that your child has to complete a task, but that only a part of his body will be needed, for example:
- "Put the doll underneath the couch". "Put the truck left of the smallest car" . "Bring me the ball that is bigger than the yellow ball, but that is not the biggest ball". "Lift up your right leg". "Touch your left elbow with your right knee." "Put the yellow bean bag on your left foot and try to walk around". "Put the bean bag on your back / elbow, etcetera. Can you still move around?" (give your child tasks to perform with a bean bag while some music is playing - children enjoy this activity very much).
Instructions will get more difficult as your child progresses.
Now your child will be ready to move to two-dimentional activities which involves him sitting on a chair and / or carpet.
Two dimentional activities imply the use of card games, board games and peg boards, etcetera:
- Let's start with peg boards: "Put a green peg left of the orange peg". "Place a purple peg in the right corner of the peg board". "Can you build a square with the pegs?" "Put two black beads inside the square (it is assumed that your child knows the basic shapes, it is circle, square, triangle, rectangle and oval, otherwise you could start to teach him the shapes - see next fortnights newsletter).
- Board and card games would be: Match the pictures / colours / numbers (eg that looks identically the same); match the pictures that go together eg a mother and a baby, a bee and a hive. Monopoly.
- Snakes and ladders (ask questions like, which number is before / after number four; which number is between / next to / above / underneath number ten, etc).
- Make your own coloured arrow card. Arrows show in different directions. Ask your child to touch the arrow/s that show/s left / up / right / down directions.
One dimentional activities will be your final destination (it means pencil / pen and paper activities and BE WARE! both parents as well as some pre-primary schools tend to skip three- and two dimentional activities and / or start too early with pen / pencil activities.
What do do I mean by too early?
Remember the sequence: three-, two-, one dimentional. If your child hasn't accomplished the three- and two-dimentional activities, it means that he won't be ready to move to the one-dimentional activities. In the process he might get confused and loose confidence in his first, very important, math skills.
A nice change to the normal: Take turns with your child to give the instructions.
Pen / pencil and paper activities mean: "Draw a circle at the right side of the tree". "Mark the third duck in the row". Tick the last triangle in the row". "Circle the object between the girl and the car".
Have fun! Ready, steady, take the strain out of Maths - you can do it!
Look out for my next newsletter in two week's time: "Writing, are you kidding!?"