where: at the pool
In the spirit of Christopher Danielson's marshmallow post, Tale of Two Conversations, I wanted to flag some simple ways to add some numbers to a toddler's day. None of these are earth-shattering and they aren't hard to do, but they sometimes take a bit of awareness to remember.
Counting upAt the pool recently with J3, I noticed several times that we chose to use numbers when we might have said something else. First, she started jumping in from the side, so we led with a count: "1, 2, 3 jump!"
That's standard and comes easily to most parents (my observation from watching other parents at playgrounds). A math educator once told me that some kids start school thinking that the counting sequence is "1, 2, 3, go" because they hear that formula so often!
One of our additions is to add a little counting song after each jump. I always think of the sesame street count, so we sing after each jump: "1 [later 2, 3, 4, etc] mighty jump, ha ha ha." She got up to 17 before moving on from the jumping game.
Counting downLater, she did rocket launches from the ladder. Of course, this was a good chance for counting down practice: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 0 blast off!
Oh, look at the time!Wrapping up all of this, we had a series of comments about the time throughout our swimming session. When we first arrived, I read the time to her, with a couple explanatory comments (it was 10:55, so I explained that the long hand on the 11 meant 5*11 = 55 minutes after the hour and the short hand near that 11 meant that it wasn't quite 11 o'clock, so it would be 10). I didn't expect or require her to get all of this detail.
Then, we talked about how long we could stay: 15 or 30 minutes? 30 minutes was the choice, then when would we leave? As the time passed, how much time did we have left? When we got to the agreed leaving time, how much more time did she want?
I found that the conversation about time, in particular, had to be a conscious effort. Since she doesn't have a strong understanding or awareness of time, it would have been just as functional for me to keep all that information to myself rather than explaining it to her. On the other hand, how can the little ones develop their own understanding if they aren't part of these types of discussions?