Part of the Government's Early Years Foundation Stage areas of Learning and Development covers 'Problem Solving, Reasoning and Numeracy' and one of the focuses is 'Shape, Space and Measures'; in order to introduce the idea of size and comparison, try this simple activity, especially if you have recently been to a zoo! This can be done when walking along the street to playgroup or when sitting on a bus. Make it a chatty conversation, and not a mathematical exercise. Keep it simple and talk about the possible answers.
Ask your child some size related questions:
Go to the library and find an animal dictionary or encyclopedia and look up the animals to see what they look like. See what other interesting facts you can find out. What do they eat? Where do they live? Do they live in groups or alone? You could also go on line and look for images of the animals and search together.
Try comparing the size of other things around the house too. Which is the biggest cupboard? Run and find it. Which is the tallest lamp? Run and find it. Which is the smallest door? Run and find it.
Children learn in different ways and one of the ways in which they learn is by applying logic and deduction, essentially learning through exploring. To nurture this approach to learning, introduce simple puzzles and toys that encourage thinking and problem solving:-
You can boost the logical power of older children by stimulating thinking with mental challenges:-
The ability to learn through logical thining is a skill that will assist a child throughout their lives - encouraging this style of thinking from early on will create a solid foundation on which they can grow with time.
Babies begin to understand rules even before their first birthday, but the ability to form and adapt rules in their mind happens only after a few years. From early on, your baby will learn to interpret when you say not to touch something but the formation of 'executive function', where a child truly begins to think, understand and analyse for themselves, develops slowly over their first five years.
Executive function is the ability to examine a situation, apply behaviour known on learned rules or experience, and then be able to refine their behaviour based on the outcome for future experiences. For example, a baby will open a cupboard and pull everything out, but it takes an older child to actively look for a packet of biscuits in the cupboard, learn how to get to them if they are out of reach and manage to obtain them. This development takes several years and isn't simply down to experience, the part of the brain that assists executive function is one of the last parts of the brain to develop.
By four years old, your toddler is more intelligent than the adult of any other species on the planet! This may seem surprising, but no other animal comes near to having the understanding or reasoning of a four year old child. Of course, in human terms, there's still an awfully long way to go, but next time your little one does something that makes you proud, just remember that they're already inside the top 0.1% of most intelligent creatures on earth!
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