My daughter is a bit of a numbers wizard
I say this not to brag (well maybe a little bit!), but to illustrate an interesting point. NB. She gets that from her mother, definitely not me!
She is 4.5 years old (going on 15) and numbers have always come fairly easily to her. She very quickly learned to count to 100, to count up in 2’s and 5’s and 10’s and 20’s, to add and subtract and to divide into halves and quarters. She loves numbers. They play an important part in her little life, she can count toys and Lego bricks and use them to work out how many plates and cups and saucers her “fluffies” need when having a tea party, or how much things cost and how much change to give when we’re playing shops, or to add up the dice when we play snakes and ladders so she knows how many squares to move, or to work out whether she has won the most money in Monopoly…
Reading and blending sounds however, is a different story. I have no doubt she is “smart” enough to do it and do it well, but she’s not really that bothered by it. I asked her why she didn’t want to do her reading sounds practice the other day? I said “once you can blend more sounds and read more words you’ll be able to read stories for yourself…” she replied “but I don’t want to read to myself, you and mummy read me stories?!” In her head, the need to learn how to blend sounds has no context, she has no “need” of it because by learning to read, in her head it means that story time with mummy and daddy ends.
In her world, she can see why numbers are important – she can use those. Letters and sounds on a page however, right now, have no context, no reason (my tricky job now is to provide some!)
When we look at coaching kids sports, we see the same patterns. Without play, kids just come to lessons and for some that might maintain interest for a while, but eventually, without the context of playing the game, that interest wanes when something else “more fun” comes along.
If we give kids context they’ll keep on learning and keep on playing, so what if instead of designing programmes around lessons, we designed them around “competitions/events” instead – what if we put the horse before the cart for once?
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