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Developing Mathematical Skills for Children

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D


Q: I have a 20 moths old son. He is very keen in learning new things especially numbers. When he is in good mood, he is able to rote count and recognize numerals up to 100 with little help and do counting object to 10. May I know is there any method to help him in developing his mathematics skills?

A: Your son is definitely advanced in his mathematical development. Mathematics is a way of thinking and no wonder, children do it naturally. This starts in very early years from the child's birth; from discovering that hidden things still exist (peek-a-boo), to grasping the concept of numbers, and then learning to classify and count. As early as 6 months, babies have the ability to notice small groups of one, two or three things. This in reality lays the foundation for understanding the concept of number.

There are a few things that you can do to help him further develop and enhance his mathematical development. Some tips are as the following:

  • You can start by reciting a few predictable rhymes to help him understand visual patterns. It is natural for toddlers to be attracted to the rhythmic word patterns found in finger games and nursery rhymes. Sing along these songs and make gestures (e.g., Ten Little Indian Boys, One-two Buckle my shoe..., etc).

  • Buy educational toys such as shape sorters and simple puzzles. Play with shapes and colours. Never mind if your child seems unable to sort the shapes, just a feel of the shape is a good start. Keep helping him to sort the shapes into the right slots and arrange the puzzles.

  • Go outdoors and provide a lot of sand and water play. It may seem like a messy affair but these activities actually help children grasp abstract concepts like weight and mass. To add to the fun, get toy shovels, cups, bowls, and funnels and play along with your child.

For now, a playful interaction and an interesting environment would surely help your son to a wonderful journey toward mathematical skills. All the best.


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