Preschoolers’ academic life is not so easy as it seems. Coming to terms with so many new things and retaining all those in mind is a tad difficult. Teachers and parents need to combat the challenge of making things easier for growing kids. It is the most common observation that the kids tend to drift away from activities that look like hard tasks; the deliberate practice technique is used to build efficiency in such activities. (Karl Ericsson et al., Psychological Review,1993). Some researchers do question its effectiveness, but with few exceptions. That is why including an element of gamification in teaching methods is a wise move.
In our previous posts, we have talked about gamified tools like manipulatives to teach counting, and math operations. Going a step further, we discuss here the easy ways of teaching number names to kindergarteners.
Challenges of teaching number names to preschoolers
Mostly, preschoolers are in the age range of 3-4 years. At this age, children have just started speaking. They are in the learning stage of spelling, phonics, and other skills required for word-formation. In such conditions, number names teaching requires tactful methods that promote active learning and retaining abilities. Such requirements become harder to fulfill due to the following issues among children:
- Poor reading and listening comprehension (Chamot, 2005)
- Limited spelling ability (Source: Case study “Unexpected’ spelling difficulty in a 10-year-old child with good reading skills“,Roncoli & Masterson, 2015)
- Lack of interest in convention reading and writing due to learning difficulties; need for multi-sensory approach.(Eliott, et al, 2015)
Keeping these challenges in mind, laws for making education inclusive direct the use of alternative or supplementary teaching methods in addition to curriculum-based interventions. Some of the effective teaching tools and methods that have made the process of teaching number names to kindergarteners quite interesting are discussed here.
Proven teaching strategies and tools for number names teaching sessions
Alternative teaching strategies and methods are known to serve multiple purposes like building motor skills, decision-making, boosting reasoning ability, and so on. Further, these are designed to encourage children to perform ample repetitions, and also to give them mental nudges or cues for quick identification and recall. Some of the research-backed teaching tools and intervention methods are:
1. Rote learning
Rote learning is a mechanical approach used for strengthening number names concepts in the impressionable minds of young learners. In this process, teachers spell out names and kids repeat after them in unison. A typical rhythm is used while encouraging kids to repeat spellings after the teacher.
Every day a session of rote learning number names and then spelling out those names is given to the child both in the classroom and at home. The idea behind rote rehearsing is to help children build their memory and retain names. With regular oral assessments, the teachers or parents can get ideas about the progress that children make.
In the process of learning number names, the students primarily understand the sound of words and then append all phonemes mentally to sound out the correct pronunciation. Several manipulatives are available for accomplishing this purpose.
With the help of spelling and phonics manipulatives like alphabets-based linking cubes, puzzle pieces, and handmade phonemes cubes, students can understand the process better and get the logic behind name formation. Manipulatives can be used to adopt a practical approach, unlike rote learning that is more of a systematic repeating method only.
3. Design activities like playing board games and quizzes
Board games and quizzes offer playful intervention tools for acquainting young children with number names. Based on the concept of ‘learn while play’, board games and quizzes can help create deeper interest towards learning number names with better retention ability. The play experience helps build stronger working memory in children. In a zeal to perform better, they try to retrieve the process of spelling rather quickly.
Happy memories created, and the zeal to improve scores or beat the competition, drive children into repeated learning without their feeling the drill or pressure. Creative people can develop games on the tabletop with card paper, too, to teach number names with different approaches. For example, a scrabble or crossword on number names can make the teaching session more interesting and interactive too.
4. Play online games
Technology use in education has opened several ways to teach children number names in a fun-laden manner. Online games for free cover a variety of math concepts, number names are also one of them. Learners can choose the difficulty level, time limit, and options of playing alone or with a group.
You can find activities like filling in missing letters, unscramble jumbled-up letters, choose appropriate letters, doing number name search, and several others as online games’ themes. The identification and recall in the quickest possible manner and application of concepts to achieve proficiency are some of the benefits that kindergarteners can derive by playing online games to learn number names. (Adi & Dorit,2019)
5. Organize group quizzes
Quizzes are play-inspired teaching interventions, but having a tad serious feel. These induce spaced or distributed learning among children. As a part of formative assessments, or of weekend activities at home, children can be encouraged to participate in quizzes. By asking questions in different styles like spell out the name or finish the incomplete part of spelling, interveners can stimulate the thinking process in children.
Also, an element of competitiveness induces the zeal to perform better among children. The zeal for better performance can be boosted further with the announcement of treats and gifts for the winner.
How do these help?
All the ways explained above help in positive reinforcement of number names in children’s minds. These methods of teaching this basic math skill to kindergarteners offer advantages, such as:
- Better thinking ability
- Engage mind in learning number names
- Quick recall of number names’ spelling
- Improvement in reasoning powers
Teaching spellings of number names and their pronunciation to little kids need to be done in a stress-free manner. Teachers, parents, and even friends can help children achieve number names’ learning objectives by adopting a participatory or collaborative approach. All the methods mentioned above support this approach apart from encouraging positive reinforcement of the number name concept among little learners or preschoolers. Further, playful intervention possible to pick through these methods drives children to learn more, repeat often, and strengthen the basic skill till much later in academic life.
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