Develops counting and number identification.
Even young babies can discriminate between a small set of objects and a large set of objects. Young children learn to match their culture’s number words and symbols (e.g. 1, 2, and 3) to specific quantities. Research has shown that maths skills can improve with practice; young children who are given plenty of opportunity to work and play with numbers and counting will improve their basic maths skills. Counting rhymes are very popular with babies and young children and teach them basic maths concepts in a fun way. A young child may make mistakes when learning to count (e.g. missing out the number 6 when counting 10 bricks). But this young child is still demonstrating the basic maths ability; linking number words to actual numbers, realising that each item can only have one number word, and that the numbers have a sequence. Number games, learning about sequences and singing counting rhymes all help to enhance children’s basic maths skills.
Repetition is also important, for instance, singing counting rhymes over and over again gets babies used to number words and their sequence. Toys that count as babies, for instance, place bricks in a slot and computer games that present children with fun maths problems are also useful learning tools. Play and practice with numbers is fun for babies and is essential for the development of young children’s understanding of quantity.