How Numeracy Games Help Children Learn

 By: Kathryn Dawson
Children of a young age will only learn through fun and games. Anything that seems boring or uninteresting to a child will allow their mind to wander. Preschoolers need to be kept occupied and entertained and so providing them with plenty of fun and games in the classroom and at home is key to their early development. Maths in particular can involve difficult concepts to grasp, so introducing a variety of games into their lives is critical in their early years. At preschool age, a child has a brain a bit like a sponge and so it is important to take full advantage of this by helping them learn continuously. There is no doubt that time and patience is needed however from teachers and parents, and of course children won't be solving equations overnight, but it is possible to introduce resources such as special toys and games to help them get to grips with the basics of important subjects such as maths.

Singing songs can be a great way of introducing numbers to children. By ensuring children are having fun rather than "working" they will soak in more information and really begin to learn. Hands on activities are also extremely important and can play a big role in helping young children understand mathematical concepts. Counting can slowly be introduced through the idea of matching and sorting toys for example. Children have a natural tendency to do this anyway. If you watch a young child they will often sort their toys by size, and even will sort coloured pencils on the table by colour. By introducing games to encourage this behaviour, we are helping children understand the idea that counting refers to sets of toys or other items. Other games can include learning though shapes, using recognition games to learn numbers 1 to 10 and also teaching games revolving around the idea of using a sequence or order.

The key to all number games and other classroom ideas that are designed to help children learn is to keep it all very simple. Instructions to the game should ideally be no longer than a sentence or two so the children can understand. Simplicity and fun are the most important element. Outside of the classroom, parents can continue to help their education by allowing them to help sort and items around the home. For example you could let them sort the fruit in the fruit bowl into size and colour, or try and match up socks as they come out of the washing machine. By getting to grips with ordering, pairing and sorting children are well on their way to understanding counting and other important mathematics.

Other good resources for the classroom are activity cards that can be a great way to keep numeracy fun and exciting for a child. Producing pictures of a child waking up, brushing their teeth, going to school, eating lunch etc could be used to help them understand and learn about sequences. By getting them to think about their own day can really help their education in this area. Other great picture cards to demonstrate this are of people of different ages, from infants to grandparents for example. All of these concepts can be applied to the child's own life which makes them understandable and relevant and therefore easier to learn.

Using numeracy games and sensory toys are great ways to help children learn. These types of classroom resources are so effective because they keep it interesting and fun for children who otherwise have very short attention spans. The key to children learning is making sure they don't realise it is happening by keeping day to day activities fun, exciting and full of hands on activity. This will ensure they keep on learning when they don't realise they are! A good part of the day should be devoted to arts and crafts, and another to games that will help them learn mathematical ideas such as counting and sorting.
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