‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’. A well-known and oft-quoted statement, especially by students who wish for an extra period of games! But what if we were able to combine both? Especially with our restless young ones who, to the despair of most parents, can’t sit still long enough to concentrate on and complete a task! What if you could teach your child all those little concepts that you feel she ought to know before school starts, but in a fun way so she will actually imbibe them without even realising it? The good news is you can!
Learning starts at home, where your child is most comfortable. If
you can introduce her to new concepts and knowledge through
everyday routine activities, such knowledge will become second
nature to her. Little children also tend to be more receptive when
exposed to information in a practical, hands-on manner, rather than
being spoken down to or ‘taught’ – but then, aren’t we all?!
Asking your child questions and encouraging her to observe and draw conclusions about the world around her is the most effective way to get her to think about and understand her environment. In the Building Blocks feature in Issue 6, ‘Learning through Play,’ we explored how toys and games can be used to teach the child. But there are also a number of small activities that can be done at home, using simple examples from everyday life, which will introduce and reinforce concepts in maths, science and language in a fun way. So how does this play out on a day-to-day basis?
The basic first step in teaching numeracy is introducing your child to shapes and teaching her to estimate size. This forms the foundation for more advanced counting and mathematical abilities later on. Here are a few simple ways in which you can introduce her to these basic concepts:
- Use everyday objects, especially food items to teach her about shapes; chapattis and peas are circular, while bread can be cut into triangles, rectangles and squares.
- Shapes can be seen in everything around us, from doors and windows to plates and party hats. This also helps the child associate specific shapes with certain objects; for instance, wheels are always circular.
- Teach size by asking her to compare. If you are out walking, point to the vehicles and ask your child if the car on your left or the one to your right is bigger. Encourage your child to use words like big, bigger and biggest.
Once your child has grasped the basic concepts of size and shape, you can start introducing her to numbers and counting. Incorporate numbers in little games that you play, and as a part of all the daily interactions between both of you:
- While handing out treats, ask your child to count them before accepting.
- Ask her to count the number of ingredients that go into a dish when you are cooking together.
- Play board games, especially those that use dice and game pieces to progress. Not only will this teach her to count the dots on the dice, but to also use that number to move forward the appropriate number of spaces.
- Counting the number of steps taken to reach a destination, the number of flowers, the amount of change to be returned while shopping – these are some other ways to introduce numbers, and later, simple addition and subtraction.
- Number rhymes are a fun way to teach children their numbers as well! You can use accompanying gestures to show counts, or even make finger puppets for the young ones.