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Encouraging Numeracy Skills Through Play

Numeracy skills are a vital life skill which allow us to carry out a number of everyday tasks during our lives, the foundation of numeracy skills is rooted in childhood. The first few years of any child’s life mark a period of rapid learning; by helping your child to develop numeracy skills from an early age, you will better prepare them for the future by supporting the development of mathematical concepts and problem-solving skills. This can all be done through play - play is a child’s main activity, it is through play that they begin to learn about the world around them and to develop numerical skills.

Although it may not always be immediately obvious, maths is intrinsically integrated into so many forms of play, making play a highly useful tool for fostering and developing mathematical concepts. Sharing, counting, shape and number recognition, order and patterns, number sequences, measurements, and an awareness of time, are all mathematical concepts which can be found at home and are often indirectly introduced through early play to develop a basic awareness of mathematical concepts.

number systems

Number Systems

Learning to count is a skill often introduced during play by the use of tools such as numbered counting blocks, counting books or other toys used to encourage the recognition of counting systems.

The introduction of number systems early on can be extremely useful in providing your child with a head start on numeracy and to enhance their general understanding of what numbers mean; as although a child may learn to count in order and recite a list of numbers, this does not necessarily demonstrate that they understand the value of the numbers themselves. For example, understanding that the number 2 is always 2 and that does not change - two people, 2 balls, 2 houses will help support the child in later years to form an understanding of numbers that cannot be seen, for example in 2 years, 2 miles and so forth.

How To Enhance Your Child’s Numeracy Skills

Parents and care providers can help support numerical development by providing the right props for babies and young children, e.g., toys which support the developmental phases with an appropriate play area. Mastering number systems from early on provides a key role in the foundation for learning, problem solving and handling money. Children during this phase are able to make connections between how numbers and counting are part of everyday life in a natural and fun way, which differs from a more formal academic approach which is typically introduced later during school years.

Introducing the Concept of Time

Enhancing numerical skills can also help with learning to tell the time – this is often challenging for many children but is something which can be introduced from a young age through number recognition, counting practice and an understanding of how time relates to the child’s own experiences. For example, 11 o’clock is snack time – by showing your child a simple analogue clock face at this time, will help to build an awareness of time.

Choosing the Right Toys

With so much choice available when it comes toy shopping, it can often be overwhelming. However, there are several types of traditional toys which offer fun, yet effective ways to enhance and reinforce number recognition.

Building blocks or patterned wooden blocks can be used to create different shapes and to develop sequencing, as the child learns to categorise objects into their corresponding sets, whether this be shape, size, colour, letter or number.  Some of these activities, also aid in the development of mathematical language, such as order, 1st, 2nd, 3rd etc., as well as assisting in understanding and language skills related to weight and dimensions – recognising that one item is heavier than the other, bigger, wider, longer, shorter and so forth.

Puzzle toys and shape sorting toys offer a good way to help teach your child to solve problems as well as enhancing their spatial awareness, dexterity, and hand to eye coordination. Measuring jugs, sand or water offer other simple yet effective ways to help explore the concepts of measurements, although this type of activity can be messy and requires adult guidance.

Traditional Toys to Enhance Numeracy

abc wooden blocks

ABC Wooden Blocks

Our wooden play blocks are designed to encourage and support the early learning of both numerical and language skills. Each unique block has 6 different faces which include, numbers, letters, shapes and illustrations. The blocks also help to support creative and extended play, as well as strengthening motor skills and critical thinking. The number side can be used to develop number and letter recognition plus early counting and alphabet skills, as well as reinforcing the value of numbers – three blocks corresponds to the number 3 and so forth. The blocks are small and light to stimulate dexterity and help to build confidence.

counting book

Counting Book

The wooden counting book features unique and engaging illustrations for counting from 1 to 10. Each page has a different theme to spark curiosity and to help encourage number recognition and language development – little fingers can trace the numbers to help work on pre-reading skills.

owl clock

The Blink Owl Clock

An ideal first wooden clock with a numbered design to encourage number recognition and counting practice. The child or adult can set the clock hands to help to increase the child’s awareness of time from a young age – simple games and activities using the clock can help your child to learn the basic concepts of telling the time. The Blink Owl Clock can be used at bedtime to help reinforce numbers and to offer comfort at bedtime.

noahs shape sorter

Noah’s Shape Sorter

The Noah’s Ark themed shape sorter comes with 7 pairs of animals, Noah and his wife. This toy set helps to develop and refine shape recognition, whilst improving dexterity. Children can slot the different animals through the shapes and use the sliding door to access the hull.

About Us

Le Toy Van is a family run organisation specialising in traditional wooden toys to provide not only hours of entertainment and fun for your child, but also to support them in the developmental phases of the early years. All of our toys are ethically made from sustainable rubberwood and hand painted using non-toxic paints. For more information on our products, get in touch today.

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