Over the past couple of years at school, I’ve been on a whole host of training courses about Maths teaching, how children acquire Maths and strategies to cope with Maths problems.

Never one to secure a particularly healthy work-life balance, I decided to put my learning to the test on our unsuspecting 2 and a half year old.

With mixed results…

1. Sequences

Well, Sophie’s need of an inhaler day and night has certainly taught her sequences! The fact we need to stick a funnel on her face, poor girl, for at least ten seconds has allowed us to count to and back from 10, do the days of the week, months of the year…she’s been buffeted by sequences day and night for the past year. Working though!

2. Counting

We’ve been lucky to get a whole host of books with numbers featuring prominently, even down to an Old MacDonald puppet book where each finger is a friendly animal, ready to greet Sophie warmly. To her, whether it’s four cats or five rabbits that tickle her, she doesn’t really mind! It’s helped with her number. And to be fair, the amount of children’s songs where counting is important is quite staggering. Sophie had 5 little ducks went swimming one day sung to her every night until she was one when she was in the bath.

3. Recognising numbers

Part of this regular reading has helped her recognise shapes of numbers 1-5 which we were blown away by today. Beyond 5 is a little sketchier, 7 8 and 6 were all offered up for 9 but she enjoys doing the velcro calendar my mum bought for her and can’t escape the rather abstract numbers we like to throw her way. We’re not trying to be pushy parents – honest!

4. Calculations…(!)

I know. This was always a step too far. But it did make me giggle quite a lot when I tried to introduce her to add and subtract the other day when she was in the bath. She loves the ducks  (and she’s got a lot of them) and her favourite thing to do is pull them out of her bath toys box and line them up on the side of the bath. It’s very much like they’re singing a national anthem before a major sporting event – probably a diving one. And, come to think of it, it’s probably our fault for forcefeeding her the 5 little ducks song when she was very small!

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As she was pulling them out the other day, I kept saying, “How many?” to which she’d gleefully answer. Sometimes correctly. Sometimes not. When the ducks were all there (5 of them), I committed the cardinal mistake. I took one away. Little children don’t like that. I’d barely scrambled the words, “How many now?” out of my mouth when she seized the duck back, painfully wailing, “It’s MY duck, not YOUR duck” at me.

I tried again a number of times but each time it was the same. She is not a takeaway girl. At least not yet. A bit of crispy duck from our local Chinese in the future may be required to change all that!