Most children learn to count before they start school. Reading and writing numbers are not such easy skills.
Young children love to learn and absorb new information quickly. Parents usually have fun teaching children to count, to ten initially, and playing games counting objects in the world around them. Not so many parents think of the next step, learning to read or recognize numbers, so that children can learn to write them when they start school. This important step can be included in pre-school learning, increasing a child’s readiness for school and making school transition easier.
Children need to know how to read or recognize numbers. At school they will have a classroom number. If the door to their class looks like others in a row, it’s important they know how to identify their room. They may have a coat peg on which to hang bags or clothing. They will meet numbers from their very first day at school.
Counting is important, but so is knowing what those numbers look like. Here are ways you can teach your young child number recognition, having fun at the same time.
Counting Books: Reading counting books with your child can have a dual role. As well as helping children count the objects on a page, why not trace their finger over the number, saying it aloud, talking about the shape of the number. The more each number is reinforced, the more easily it will be remembered.
Numbers around the Home: There are many opportunities for number recognition in the home. Show your child your letter box, house or apartment number and use this as a starting point for learning to read numbers. Look at the hands on the clock, or the digital numbers that tell the time. Mark off numbers on a calendar each day, but before doing so, encourage your child to say the number for the day first. Advertisements, junk mail, food packets – you’ll be surprised where you can find numbers at home. Buy a set of number fridge magnets and encourage your child to find a number that you call. Hang a number chart above your child’s bed and play find the number games at bedtime.
Games, puzzles: Playing together helps reinforce the numbers. There are many cheap card games and board games that give lots of opportunities for learning numbers in a fun way. Jigsaw puzzles teach number awareness in several ways – counting, number sequence and recognition. Children learn best through playing and number recognition is no exception.
Image by BLW Photography via Flickr
Numbers in the community: Whenever you are out and about with your child, bring their attention to the many numbers around them. Ask questions – what number can you see on the price tag? Which checkout counter are we standing in? Play number spotting and get your child to find numbers they can recognise.
Keep up the good work with teaching your child to count, but don’t isolate it from learning number recognition at the same time. Anything you can do to increase your child’s readiness for school will help with their future learning.