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3 yo "forgets" numbers

(4 Posts)
ShatterResistant Tue 05-Apr-16 14:37:55

My 3.2 year old can count to 12, has just learnt to count "things" and can recognise about half the numbers 1-10. Sometimes. Other times, she just seems to blank, like she's never had any idea. She's pretty reliable with 3 (from recent birthday cards, I assume) but any other number she may or may not know/want to say from one minute to the next. She has flashes of "brilliance" - we play a game where you have to collect all the numbers and put them in order, and when I asked her which ones she still needed, she said "3 and 8" without even hesitating. But other times it's like she's never seen these hieroglyphics before in her life. Should I be worried? I'm not really a worrier, but I must say this is starting to get to me! Does/did your toddler do this?

Ferguson Tue 05-Apr-16 19:21:05

No - at only three, don't worry about it! Children that young don't have much real concept of numbers, and even when parents claim they can 'count' to twenty (or whatever) it is only reciting a series of words, without much 'numerical' understanding.

Start with small numerals, and encourage one-to-one correspondence - so, she can have a dolls' tea party with - say - three dolls. Ask her how many biscuits/cakes she needs, and she can lay out plates etc for each doll.

If she copes with 3 OK, gradually increase it to higher numbers. And start to bring in 'one more', 'two more' etc, but stay within her ability and understanding.

If that is OK, gradually introduce subtraction: so, pretend one doll feels poorly, and doesn't want to eat; how many cakes will be left over. Eventually, move on to 'half', 'quarter' etc, but only when she is secure on previous stages.

You are right: it is hieroglyphics to her, and is as difficult as Chinese or Arabic would seem to you.

If she has a white board and pen, or paper and thick felt tip gradually let her shape numerals (and letters too, when she is ready), or write in dry sand or flour on a shallow tray. BUT - keep it FUN, and NOT work.

ShatterResistant Tue 05-Apr-16 22:51:03

Those are some really great ideas, thank you. I suppose I'm not hugely consistent myself at the moment. I oscillate between, hey, she'll pick it up when she's ready; and, oh my god, what if she still doesn't get it when all her peers are already moving on to other stuff?! But we do keep it fun (even though sometimes I'm tearing my hair out on the inside. But that goes for pretty much everything...) Thanks again.

SueTrinder Tue 05-Apr-16 22:57:53

My 3 year old boy is reasonably reliable at counting to 10 (and can sometimes count to 20). He recognises the numerals pretty well, can order them, and is quite good at the actual concept of numbers (like the equivalence stuff of laying a table described above). Nursery say he's 'good' at numbers. He's a poor neglected third child so DH and I don't worry at all about trying to teach him anything formal, although he does love a museum!

Your DD sounds like she's doing great, don't worry. At 3 some kids have no idea and some are great at numbers. But it's far too early to say if they are good or not at maths.

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