At Raising Sparks we believe mathematics is both beautiful and fascinating. It is the language of pattern, the language we use to describe and organise the rich tapestry of life and the universe. If you have less than happy memories of mathematics at school, where the skill and drill approach to ‘hard sums’ and written maths was the order of the day, we hope that Raising Sparks can inspire you and re-ignite a love of mathematics.
Having young children forces you to look at the world anew and when you look at mathematics from the perspective of say a three-year-old you begin to appreciate not just the awesome enormity of number and pattern, but also you will appreciate just how much mathematical knowledge you have actually acquired yourself through practical experience and every day living!
Helping your child with mathematics is easy and does not require any specialist equipment because it is deeply embedded in every aspect of daily life. In talking with your child about all the things you do you cannot but help introduce them to mathematical concepts – for example, of shape, space, sequence, probability and number. In the early years children will discover the beautiful language of maths through play and the every day – whether you are shopping, cooking, doing the house-work or gardening – everything, quite literally, counts!
Just think of all the mathematical concepts employed when you are baking together. There will be counting (cardinal numbers), ordering (first the sugar, then the butter and third the eggs-ordinal numbers), measuring, weighing, volumes and timings to consider. When you eat not only will you count – eat at least three brussel-sprouts please! – but you will also use division – one for you and one for me! – and fractions – half and apple or quarter of a pizza. Or even 90 degrees of a pizza if you want to look at it another way! When you do the household chores you will almost certainly count in multiples, such as two socks in a pair. Tidying up is really nothing more than a complex sorting exercise where you sort by size, shape, colour and function giving rise to the study of sets and attributes. When you visit the supermarket you will travel through a carefully organised and classified universe, you will count and weight items, calculate costs and use money. And you’ve got to get there first. Have you ever given much thought to all the mathematical concepts employed to cross a road safely? This is one context in which you shouldn’t underestimate the importance of estimation! If you want to plan when to plant your peas you will need to understand their growth habit in terms of height and spread, you will also begin to explore the concept and language of probability. So many grey clouds – it is almost certain to rain any minute!
Life is full of mathematics …and when children learn to use the language of mathematics with its infinite possibilities the young mind can stretch the imagination and reach beyond the everyday into a universe of rich patterns and probabilities.
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