Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Lets Start Counting!

Apart from creativity and curiosity, which is attitude to life, there are 2 learning that I put emphasize on -- language and mathematics. These are the basic for learning greater things in life so I really think its important to build a strong foundation since young.

Whether you like it or not, mathematics is so important in our everyday life. From simple tasks like grocery shopping, ordering food, going places (taking bus or lift) to serious stuff like bank savings, financial investment, property purchases and even tax payment... its all about numbers, numbers, numbers. So, big guy and I had worked together in cultivating interest in numbers to Ethan when he was as young as 8 months old.

Ethan, just turned 3 yo, playing with simple math cards

Here are the different tools and techniques we used along the way. Some are ready purchased, some DIY. Choose whichever methods that work for your little ones, but what most important is always make learning fun & interactive. I strongly believe these are the keys to cultivate a kid who enjoys learning.

Start with the Basic - Counting with Abacus
We got this abacus from IKEA to teach simple counting from 1-10. Baby Claire loved to play with the colorful beads, she turned the beads around and laughed about it. I let her be but at the same time, will count the bead one by one as she watched on.

For her elder brother, we used this to teach the concept of addition, e.g. 1 bead + 1 bead = 2. 10 beads + 10 beads = 20 and etc

Baby Claire having fun with the abacus

Basic Counting with Dots
I got these dots cards from Popular book store and flashed them to baby every day, starting from 1-5, 5-9 then slowly increase to 20, 30 etc.

For Beginner Learning: Addition and Subtraction with Pictorial Cards
When Ethan was 2.5 yo, I used this pictorial mathematics cards set to teach him the basic of addition and subtraction. Began with smaller numbers 1-5, I gradually increased to 6-10. He excelled in this after few times of teaching and most of the time he just played by himself. At time he even tried teaching me and he told me this one day, "Mommy, this is too difficult for you. Let me show you how to do this.". *eyes rolling*

Match It! Math cards from Toy 'R Us

For Advanced Learning: Addition and Subtraction with Numbers
After Ethan had grasped the basic of addition, daddy prepared these DIY cards to teach him simple addition from under 5, to under 10, then eventually moved on to bigger numbers. We taught him to use fingers for counting too.

DIY Math Cards by daddy

Interactive Learning Through Singing
Apart from the above tools, counting can be candid and as simple as using fingers, candies, finger puppets or whatever items you have with you. In fact, if you are staying in a double story house, the best time to practice counting is when going up and down the staircase. That was how Ethan learnt 1-20 as our staircase have exactly 20 steps. :)

Below are some nursery rhymes that are perfect to teach numbers:

"1 little, 2 little, 3 little fingers,
4 little, 5 little, 6 little fingers,
7 little, 8 little, 9 little fingers,
10 little small fingers"
modified from the 10 little Indian songs.

Once I caught a fish alive,
Then I let it go again."

For Mandarin

把"朋友"换去小宝贝的名字,他一定会很开心很投入. :)

The Benefit of Doing All These?
When I first started flashing the number cards to Ethan, he was around 10 months old and apart from staring at those cards or trying to grab them from me, I couldn't tell how much he understood. I persisted regardless and he understood the numbers after turning 1 although he was not able spelled them yet.

At 18 months old,  we took Ethan for a road trip and as we were on our way home, he suddenly lifted his little fingers and started counting 1.. 2.. 3.. 4.. 5.. 6.. 7.. 8.. 9.. 10! He counted them soft and steady, although his "seven" sounded more like "swen" and his "five" sounded like "fie", Big Guy and I were so astonished beyond words. Ethan was obviously  feeling so pleased with himself that he repeated counting for a few times. Since that day onward, he just started saying those numbers without any problem.

At around 2.5 years old, while waiting for our lunch to be served at a restaurant, I gave Ethan a piece of blank paper to doodle, with some crayola pens. He suddenly wrote the number 1 - 10 and showed it to me with a shy smile. Again, he took us by surprise. His handwriting wasn't great and not all strokes are correct, but considering he wrote this on his own effort without any prior training (his preschool had not started him on writing skill yet and neither did I), I was really glad that he shown the initiative to learn and try new things on his own.

Ethan's first effort of writing numbers at 2.5 yo

So, for parents who are reading this, please don't give up on your kiddos if they are not showing you the response you wanted. Our little ones are like sponge absorbing whatever we teach them, make sure you teach them the right things and give them time to proof to you when they are ready. :)

What Next?
Keep repeating the above activities every now and then to reinforce the learning. Once we have figured out how to teach him multiplications and division, I shall update with a new post... If i can find the time.

Happy counting! ;)

Note to Parents and Caretakers
This sharing is purely from our own research and available resources at hands, neither of us are child education experts. So please read this as a sharing and you shall choose to adopt whichever methods that best suit your little ones. Besides, please remember that every child's development is different, so do not compare your little ones with others, everyone is unique in their own way and as parents, we love our kiddos for being who they are, not what they are capable of.

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