Numbers are all around us. We use numbers to count the cracks in the sidewalk, to count money and to tell how old we are. Our world is connected to numbers and helping children develop a sense of what numbers are and what they mean is an important developmental milestone.
When a child counts from 1-20, it signifies they know how to do so through rote memorization but they don’t really know what each number represents. Helping children count using one-on-one correspondence is vital. This shows that your child knows what the number means, such as pointing to 5 different objects while counting to 5. Counting out silverware to help set the table is a perfect example. For instance, if there are five family members have your child count out five forks and place one at each place setting. This helps reinforce the skill of counting and visual discrimination of the differences between the figures that make up numbers, i.e. knowing the difference between a 6 and a 9.
When folding laundry and matching socks, encourage your child to find five sets that match. Not only are they counting out 10 items but matching by physical characters such as color or design. Other activities include cooking and collecting items from around your home. While cooking, have your child measure out flour, sugar, applesauce or milk. Teach your child what the measures mean and compare different sizes: is this bigger or smaller? Have your child count the number of pages in a book or the number of pillows in your living room. Stack the pillows from the largest to the smallest or make a pattern out of the pillows.
Simple songs and age-appropriate board games build number skills. Songs such as Five Speckled Frogs are a good way to reinforce numbers. If you are not familiar with the song, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WSC-gHBU_d0. I don’t like to see children spending hours on electronic media but checking out a quick song or listening to a story is fine. Children learn by doing, not by being on an iPhone or iPad. Rather, your child will learn more when they are thinking through a task and experiencing it using their hands and entire body. Board games such as Candyland, Chutes and Ladders, Zingo and handheld card games develop the concepts of moving forward or backward, defining positionality on a gameboard and turn-taking. Dominoes are fascinating to preschoolers, not only for their dots and numbers but also for lining them up and watching them fall.
To find out more about what children need during their preschool years and to locate available preschool as well as summer learning programs for older family members, you are invited to the Early Childhood and Summer Learning Fair on Saturday, April 6 at the Danbury Dome, 25 Shelter Rock Lane, from 10 am to 1:00 pm. The event is free of charge to families and entertainment will include bounce houses, games, face-painting, sports, police cars, raffles and more than 50 early childhood and summer programs.
Anne E. Mead, Ed. D., is the administrator for the Early Childhood Education and Extended Learning Programs of the Danbury Public Schools. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact her at 203-830-6508 or firstname.lastname@example.org.