Counting through the day

28 May 2019

By: Shefali Shah

Numbers and numeracy skills come alive in the hustle and bustle of your everyday life! Don’t wait for school to introduce your deaf child to the world of numbers.

Introduce your child to the language of numeracy.

Your day is full of numbers:

Count aloud together.

laying the table for a meal: the number of cups, spoons and forks that need to be laid can all be counted by your hearing impaired child without any fear of breakage.

counting the stepping stones at the park

counting the Cheerios that have fallen out of your child’s bowl

counting the buttons on clothes E.g. “Here, I’ve helped you with three buttons, how many buttons do we have left to do?”

Too often, deaf children are confined to vocabulary related to number names and classroom work and do not understand the language of numeracy. Raised with this language in family conversation, your child with hearing loss will quickly learn number concepts such as: more, another, bigger, too high, just to cite a few.

Understanding ‘Number value’ is key.

Your two year old who comes pleading for another cookie is demonstrating that she knows that ‘one’ is not enough for her and that she is demanding a quantity more than one. By getting down to her ear level and pretending complete surprise, you could ask her “You mean you want more?” When she nods, say to her, “You have one cookie here, how many do you want?” Wait for her response and if she doesn’t respond with a number name, model it for her. E.g. “Do you want 2?” (hold up the cookie she has and another one that she is asking for). Be careful to ask this question in situations where you are comfortable allowing her to have a quantity that is more than one, or else you will then have a tantrum to handle.

Quantity is understood; it is not to be represented by a show of fingers.

In the example above, your child understood the number value of ‘two’. Context gave it meaning. Holding up two fingers and saying “two” does not lend meaning. Capitalising on the situation that you are currently in, gives meaning to numbers and helps your child understand seemingly ‘difficult’ concepts.

Young children can do simple mental computation too.

Once your child understands number values upto three, s/he is ready to do simple mental computation such as 1 upto three in context. Food is always a powerful motivator. As your child settles down to a favourite, healthy food such as a strawberries, ask “You have only one strawberry on your plate. Suppose if I gave you one more, how many would you have?” Wait. If s/he responds correctly, continue with “Oh and now you have two strawberries on your plate and I give you one more. Now how many strawberries will you have?” If your child struggles to understand, place the additional strawberry on the plate so that it is visualised and then continue. Drop the visual cue as soon as your child shows signs of comprehending the situation.

Let’s not pre-decide for our children. Let’s instead always allow our children to show us how much they understand.