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Problem solving, reasoning and numeracy is one of the vital six areas of learning in early years teaching and involves the development of creativity and critical thinking. Babies and young children look for patterns and connections, learning to sort and match and count as they develop the skills to solve problems and make sense of the world around them.
Shapes and spaces, sorting and matching and learning how to use numbers as labels for counting are all part of this area of learning and you can start helping your baby with this from a very early age. All kids can succeed in this pre-maths area as long as they get the opportunities, they need to explore mathematical ideas in a way which can make sense to them personally.
Counting in Daily Routines
Incorporating counting as part of daily routine can help teach babies and children the concepts of counting from a young age. Start with counting up to 3 or 5 and get higher as they get older. This can include counting things such as stairs or toys as they play. It can be pretty simple to include counting into daily life, in playing and general day to day activity as your baby is learning constantly.
For children clay play can really help with their problem-solving abilities. It is a great way for them to discover shapes using their hands and can teach them concepts such as more or less as they add and remove clay from their design. Similarly, water play and painting can help with problem solving through the process of creativity. It is important to disregard the mess as the experience is so valuable in the long run.
Building Blocks and Puzzles
Building blocks are a great way of introducing shapes and the concept of how shapes fit together. They can also help with counting and colour recognition. In addition to building blocks there are other toys and puzzles which can help such as play trays and jigsaws. These are all great for building concentration and hand-eye coordination while developing rudimentary mathematical and reasoning skills.
Stacking beakers can be used to initiate conversations about colours, sizes and shapes and the concept of inside and outside. Basic stacking beakers are also worth chucking in with the bath toys from time to time for pouring activities as well as floating and sinking.
By now you’re getting the idea that maths for babies is not about teaching little one’s concepts way beyond their understanding to produce a hot house genius. It’s about using patterns and routines in your everyday environment to introduce the very basic concepts to your baby – the genius bit can wait for later on!