Babies: from birth to 18 months
Numeracy is about children developing an understanding of how to solve problems, how to reason and how to use logic and mathematical concepts in their everyday environment.
Children will use their bodies, minds and senses to explore their world, including the numbers and mathematics in that world. When they do this, they are able to develop their knowledge, skills and attitudes. They then form ideas and test these out. They also learn to refine these ideas as they interact with their peers and adults.
Mathematical concepts develop as children investigate and communicate their ideas about numbers, counting, shape, space and measures.
- Babies develop an awareness of naming things and number names through experiences. Mathematical concepts should be introduced via vocabulary development and by pointing out their environmental objects and their bodies.
Tip: Say or sing and point: “My one nose. Your one nose. My two ears. Your two ears. My five fingers. Your five fingers. Etc.”
- Between the ages of 1 – 2 years of age, some children will understand, but not be able to explain the concepts of “more” and “enough.” When they want more biscuits than they were given, they will say “more.” They also may say “no more” when they are satisfied with the amount they were given.
Tip: Ask and model quantity: “I will cut a small slice of cake for you.” OR “Would you like one more carrot?” OR “Let us share the orange” OR “Go on! Two more sips of water!”
Space and Shape
- From 12 months, babies show awareness of shapes, forms and textures in their immediate environment. They are also great explorers and love to touch and taste everything they get their hands and mouths on.
Tip: Verbally label items around the house and allow them to play with them (empty, recycled containers) e.g. “box” or “cube”. If possible, play games that need them to match circles, squares and triangles and others. Remember that extra-caution and hygiene should be applied because meaning-making is through touch and taste, as well as sight, feeling and hearing.
- Babies want to explore their environment and find out about things that challenge them.
Tip: When baby is faced with an obstacle, allow them to feel some frustration as they try to solve the problem. Get involved only if the frustration looks like it is too much and then guide them to do things by themselves rather than doing it for them.