It makes sense that singing nursery rhymes helps children develop language skills from a young age, but did you realise it also helps them develop maths skills, too?
According to new research discussed on Nursery World, phonics and phonology (the study of the patterns of sounds in spoken language) could help children with their maths development more than we realised.
Researchers at Liverpool John Moores University found that discussing the sounds in words and identifying different letters is more likely to help boost early numeracy skills than reading stories or counting with children.
Observing more than 200 children from 40 early years settings moving through pre-school and into reception, the researchers looked at how two types of home learning affected children’s numeracy skills. These two learning experiences were:
- Meaning-focused home learning:When parents and carers interact with their children around the meaning of words, sentences and stories – for example, when reading together.
- Code-focused home learning:When emphasis is placed on the phonological and orthographic structure of language. This could be discussions about the relationships between letters and sounds or the sounds within spoken words.
Of the two, by the time a child finishes reception code-focused learning experiences were the more powerful predictors of early numeracy skills .
Researchers suggested that when parents and carers discuss the sounds in words or identifying letters, they are helping children grasp the idea that symbols have meaning. As a result, both the literacy and numeracy skills of the child are boosted.
The study recommends that parents and carers should make sure they have these kinds of interactions with children on an informal basis – by singing songs, reciting nursery rhymes or reading together.
Speaking about the findings, co-investigator Dr Anne-Marie Adams explained: “The evidence indicates that interactions in the home which focus around the sounds in words and the letters that represent them may support pre-school children’s early number skills development.”
However, Adams also clarified that the research should not be taken as evidence that formal phonics instruction is advisable for pre-school children.
She stated: “We would not propose that our research advocates the use of formal phonics teaching with pre-school children. The activities studied represented informal discussions about letters and sounds which were integrated into pre-schoolers’ everyday activities.”
In other words, the more fun you can make learning, the better it is for everyone.
Here at Little Willows, we are committed to making learning as fun as possible. We provide opportunities every day for the children to take part in singing times, using number songs to support the children’s numeracy learning. We also have visual nursery rhyme cards around the nursery so children can independently choose, in addition to these adult-led times.
If you’d like to hear more about what we do at Little Willows, and perhaps come for a visit, get in touch with the team today.