World Maths Day is for little Groovy Adventurers as much as it is for older children. The foundation for basic maths concepts starts well before your child goes to school!
If we think of development as a tree (having roots, a trunk, branches and fruits), with the roots being more foundational and the fruits being more refined academic skills, we can see how foundational sensory play impacts basic maths concepts later on. At a root level, a child’s touch system gives his brain important information about his body, his environment and the properties of the objects he is interacting with. All this feeds positively into his little map of his body and what it looks and feels like. Without this internal blueprint, he cannot navigate his way successfully and efficiently around his play space. Figuring out how to crawl over, around or under an obstacle such as a cat in the way of his toy, can help him later on when learning which way to write his numbers!
As far-fetched as this may seem, 2D spatial concepts as needed when learning to write numbers begins on a body level. Once your clever baby has learnt where his body ends and his world starts, he can then apply this knowledge to exploring where objects start and end on a 3D level. Knowing how to put his spoon into his cereal bowl or knowing which size block will fit into his bucket will help him to move on to more complex 2D spatial tasks such as being able to colour inside the lines or complete a dot-to-to-dot picture. These 2D tasks are the foundation for spacing and sizing his numbers later on.
Would you believe us if we told you that being allowed to mouth objects will help your baby to one day be a maths whizz?! By exploring the object in his mouth, his touch receptors will teach him all about the texture, shape, temperature etc. of that object. This information is then stored in his brain as a framework for future learning. When for instance he sees sand next time, he will already know that it is grainy, gritty, rough and small. This will help him learn about basic concepts such as soft, hard, heavy, light, liquid, solid etc. He needs all this information to help him know what sand can do e.g. mould, pour, squash, push, build, mix etc. Knowing about these concrete concepts forms the foundation for the development of more abstract concepts such as more, less, lots. little, share, half etc. We cannot understand the value of numbers or apply them in our lives without these concrete and basic abstract concepts. One builds on the other much like a tree needs firm foundations to bear fruit.
The love of numbers starts from a very early age and is caught by having lots of number fun. Remember to count when going up or down stairs, when you getting ready to jump, when sharing or dishing out raisins or peas, washing hair or brushing teeth! Use everyday tasks and games to enthuse these basic concepts!