Mathematics is a compulsory subject for all students in the 12th grade, still in their final year only 37% of all matrices wrote the thesis. Almost half of these failed math – cannot achieve the minimum grade of 30%. As mathematics is essential to many career paths associated with South Africa’s future development and growth, it is important to tackle this crisis at its root: children under the age of six.
“Developing a sense of math is one of the foundations of early childhood development,” said Candice Potgieter, CEO of The Unlimited Child, a nonprofit early childhood education and skills development organization. “Children are incredibly willing to learn at this critical time in life, but only if they are given the right conditions and stimulation in preschool.”
According to the South African National Curriculum Framework, there are four stages of early childhood development where age-appropriate activities to build early familiarity with numbers and counting should be encouraged. The first phase begins with babies from birth to 18 months of age. The toddler phase includes children from one and a half years to 36 months, then toddlers from 3 to 4 years. Next comes the pre-class R phase, until a child is six years old.
In these early years, the first foundations for arithmetic and problem solving are laid. Here too, developmental gaps need to be monitored based on a child’s overall emotional, social and physical well-being. This is expressed in their language, their sounds, their art, their actions and later in their writing.
“Understanding when a child is falling short of their developmental milestones can be challenging for many parents and caregivers, and this is often a major cause for concern,” says Potgieter. She says some of the early signs to look out for are a young child who has trouble paying age-appropriate levels of attention, has slow vocabulary development, and confuses objects, letters, and numbers.
Understanding math is crucial to raising a well-rounded child. Helping young children enjoy basic math and number concepts is something parents and carers can do even at home as a seamless part of their daily routine.
The Unlimited Child shares some tips to ensure kids get the best start in their early years, so they find numbers and counting a fun challenge as they progress through school.
Babies (up to 18 months)
- Singing is a great way to help your baby develop an awareness of number names and experiment with counting.
- Songs can be invented as long as they contain numbers, especially when they relate to everyday activities like dressing or eating.
- Accompany the song with claps and count on your fingers.
- Talk to your baby about what they are doing and what is happening around them.
- Ask your baby to reach for toys and other objects by describing their shape and size. This helps a baby begin attempts at logical thinking by exploring their surroundings and finding things that challenge them.
- Play is another important development tool. A great activity for babies is to give them containers or objects that are easy to hold and then surround them with clean sand to play with.
Infants (18-36 months)
- Talk to your toddler about things that can be grouped. Ask them to match items like shoes, toys, and clothes by saying, “Can you get another shoe? Now you have two shoes.”
- Ask your toddler to describe what they see in picture books and magazines as this will help them learn how to categorize things.
- Start counting words like “one”, “two”, “more” in your chat with your child.
- Ask your toddler to find matching objects – be they shoes, picture cards or toys – this will help them understand different sizes and shapes.
Toddlers (3 – 4 years)
- Tell your child stories and teach them rhymes, and ask questions that require a number for the answer, e.g. “How many blind mice?” – Three!
- Encourage your child to count items in groups and use words like “less” and “more than” – this will help him see what is the same and what is different.
- Set up a treasure hunt where you give your child directions—”go forward two steps,” “turn around,” “look under the table”—these are directions that help kids get a feel for the space and also have fun solving problems . It’s also a great way to help them use speech to identify objects.
Direction Class R
- At this age, children can begin to solve simple problems. Ask your child to sort items into equal groups – like sorting a collection of toys or crayons.
- Encourage your child to count with their fingers
- A fun spot the difference game is great to get a kid excited about their skills
- Ask your child to stand in relation to certain objects, e.g. B. on a chair, behind a wall or next to a tree to develop spatial awareness.