Helping your child with Numeracy


One of the earliest skills children have to develop is counting.  To count, they need to match the number word with the number of objects and remember the number names in order.

Count with your child whenever possible, sing counting rhymes and play counting games.

As they get older, count beyond the hundreds, into the thousands, tens of thousands and millions.

Count backwards and forwards from a given number and try counting by 2’s, 5’s and 10’s.


Encourage your child to use money. This helps them to recognize the different notes and coins and develop an understanding of their value. Encourage them to estimate the cost of two or more items and calculate change when they are shopping.

If your child is saving to buy something, ask how much money he or she will need to save before they can buy it.

Card Games

Cards help young children to recognize numbers and objects at an early age. They provide a great opportunity to recall number facts and practice their use of mental calculation strategies.

Most calculations we do each day, we do in our heads, especially when we play games. The most interesting thing about mental calculations is that we do not all think the same way.

Ask your child how he or she worked out the answer and you will find that they have interesting strategies that are quick and effective.

At an early age, children can use objects to help with calculations.


Cooking with your child helps them to make sense of measurement and to see how measurement is used in practical situations.

Encourage the use of words associated with measurement, by talking about; things that we can measure; things we can use to measure; and later; the units we use to measure things, such as grams, millilitres, kilograms and litres.

Show your child how you use kitchen scales to measure ingredients.


During the primary years, children need practical experiences to develop the ideas and skills related to working out ‘what time it is’ and ‘how long it takes’.

At home they can see the natural order of events that occur in their everyday lives, they learn that clocks are used to tell the time of day, that calendars mark the days, weeks and months and that when Mum says, “In a minute”, that a minute is a very long time indeed!

They also get to see the real life purpose of reading timetables and schedules like the television guide and the program for an athletics carnival.

Learning to read analogue clocks is best done at home as children can relate the time they are reading on the clock to the actual time of day.


As children move about their environment and explore the things in it, they learn about the spatial features of shape and location of objects.

Children need to develop strong images in their minds about shapes and objects and the way they can be changed, put together or pulled apart. Drawing and making shapes are key ways in which children can develop their ideas of 2D shapes.

Young children enjoy building with shapes or discovering which shapes will stack or roll. Later children learn the names of three-dimensional objects.


When young children play with their calculator they learn to recognise the numbers on the keys. They notice that when they press a number it will show on the screen.

Children enter numbers such as their age, telephone number, big numbers like one million and ‘blast off’ numbers (counting down from 10 to 0).

To count by 1’s press ‘1 + 1 =’ and then keep pressing the ‘=’ button.

To count by 2’s press ‘2 + 2 =’ and keep pressing the ‘=’ button. Try this with your child and see the numbers ‘grow’ on the screen. Ask your child to stop and predict which number comes next. Check to find out. Ask him or her to say the numbers as they are shown on the screen.

Experiment with counting on from a larger number, e.g. start with 16 and count by 2’s. Now try counting backwards from 20 by 2’s.

As children get older, use the calculator to count up to large numbers. Count by 5’s and 10’s.  Start from a number like 7 and count by 2’s, 5’s, and 10’s etc.

Count backwards from 1 000 by 10’s using the key.

Take turns to change one of the digits in a number like 526 to 0 in one move. For example, to change the 2 to 0 in 526 subtract 20 resulting in 506. Keep going until the screen shows 0.

Help your child with multiplication tables

Did you know that using the calculator to repeatedly add the same number helps children to understand how multiplication works?

Ask: How many times did you have to add 7 to get to 42?

How many 6's do you think there would be in 42?

Use your calculator to check if you were right.

Children in their later primary years enjoy using decimal numbers, so use the above counting strategy and enter a decimal number e.g. 0.5 + 0.1 =Using the calculator to play games

Back to Zero: Have your child put in a number like 349.65 and ask them what they need to do to change the number to 349.05 in just one move. (They need to know that the 6 in 349.65 stands for 6 tenths or 0.6 and then subtract 0.6 to get to 349.05). Take turns and continue the game until the screen shows 0.

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