Saturday, 2 June 2012


Strengthening Command of Number Recognition/记密码

Age: From 3 years old

1. To train the child's ability to remember numbers and to pay attention.
2. To strengthen the child's command of number recognition.

1. 3 sets of 3 groups of 4 numbers
2. 1 tray

1. Write a group of 4 numbers on a piece of paper and ask you.

2. Show it to your child on a tray for 5 seconds and read it to him.

3. Ask your child to repeat the number after you.

4. Then ask your child to help you remember it.

5. Keep the paper and ask your child to repeat the group of number.

6. Repeat step 1-5 with another set of 4 numbers.

If your child have difficulty, reduce the group of 4 numbers to group of 3 numbers.

Additional Information:
I got this idea from a Chinese child's activity book. A good memory is a form of intelligence highly valued by the Chinese. Many of the Chinese's way of learning involves memory training. Learning the Chinese language is in itself a memory training from childhood, since all the Chinese characters must be memorized. The Chinese way of training a good memory has been labelled as rote learning stifling to a person's creativity. I agree and I also disagree. I do not actually think so, as I have seen many creative ideas and also in the Chinese activity books for children. I think though the real danger of rote learning is that over-doing it kills the joy of learning for life.

I think it is important to strike a balance. The challenge is that it is not easy to strike a balance. I don't think that the Chinese approach has managed to strike a good balance. I do think that in general, the Chinese approach is too heavy on the rote learning, which is why I am such a believer in Montessori philosophy of learning. On the other hand, I do think that memory training, and thus rote-learning, has its place and value. Many things have to be committed to memory first, before it can be internalized. One such example is learning the time-table. One should not have to think too long to say out the answer that 2x2=4 or 12x12=144, for example. The only way to do so is to commit it to memory.

On the other hand, too much rote learning kills a child's desire to learn. This is the last thing I would want for my child. It does not matter how fast or how slow Joshua learns, as long as he cultivates a love of learning for life. I think this game is a good way to train the brain's agility. I would like to try it with Joshua. However, if he finds it boring or kills his joy for learning, I will stop.

Updates 4.6.2012:

I tried this today on Joshua. It was very useful in that it showed me which number he has mastered and which numbers he still needs more practise. As the numbers are not ordered in ascending order, Joshua could only say out the number 1 and 3 correctly all the time. For the rest of the numbers, he got it wrong sometimes. He could get the number 1 to 5 right, because they have been arranged in order in the past. This suggest to me that he is saying the numbers not so much by recognition, but by the order.

He also used this activity to trace the numbers. However, this activity wasn't so useful as a memory game yet. When I hide the set of number after showing to Joshua for 5 seconds, Joshua could not quite figure out that I wanted him to say out the numbers without seeing them. He only got it right some of the time. He also quickly lost interest and wanted to move on to the other Montessori water-play.

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