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Learning at home with 3–4 year olds

Photo: Get information on how to support your deaf 3 or 4 year old learn at home

As a parent, you play the most important role in helping your child to learn and succeed. There are many simple things you can do to develop your child’s reading, writing and maths skills before they start school.

Top tips for learning at home
  • Give your child lots of opportunities for conversation so they can develop their language and learn new words and phrases, including talking about things related to maths and numbers.
  • Read with your child and encourage them to read a range of different things.
  • Make learning as fun as possible, especially with games and everyday play.
  • Provide opportunities to be creative in play to help develop their maths thinking and understanding.
  • Encourage them to write.
  • Recognise what your child does well and praise them.
Develop your child’s maths skills
  • Introduce maths language naturally during their play and activities (bathtime, shopping). For example, “how many?”, more, tall, less, big, full, light, etc. Many hearing children pick up maths language through incidental learning, so you may need to support your deaf child more directly with this.
  • Rhymes, songs and stories are fun and a great way to introduce your child to maths language, including counting and learning number patterns.
  • A child’s working memory affects how easy or difficult they find maths (this is the ability to keep a limited amount of information in our heads for a short amount of time). You can develop your child’s working memory with games such as matching pairs cards.
  • Help your child to learn numbers by talking about them and pointing them out from an early age, for example, on doors, telephones and mobiles, clocks etc.
  • Introduce counting in everyday life, like climbing stairs or items in a shopping basket.
  • Play together with shapes – sorting them and talking about them, for example, what shapes are similar, curved, etc.
  • Do some problem-solving together – share five cakes between two plates or fill four cups equally from a jug of water.
  • Play shops – make price labels together and use real coins to ‘buy’ items, or do some measuring – toys, furniture, feet!

Tips from parents of deaf children

“Use examples and objects when you introduce mathematical ideas such as ‘We have two apples and two cakes, how many things do we have altogether?’”

“Play sorting games such as sorting buttons into piles of different colours or coins into piles of the same shape and size.”

For more ideas and activities to support the development of your child’s maths skills, read our resource Helping Your Deaf Child to Develop Early Maths Skills (3–4 year olds).

Develop your child’s reading skills
  • Let you child choose what books they want to read – they’ll enjoy reading more if they feel involved.
  • Encourage them to read lots of different types of texts – picture story books, books of rhymes, non-fiction books, children’s magazines, postcards and even menus!
  • Explain any words they don’t know, perhaps using pictures, objects or sign language.
  • Talk about what’s happening in the book as you read it together by asking open questions, for example, “What do you think will happen next?”
  • Use reading to open up discussions about feelings “The monkey is sad. Do you ever feel sad? What makes you feel sad?”
  • Use your facial expressions, gesture, sign, actions and vary the tone of your voice to help tell the story.
  • Encourage your child to act out the story with their toys and encourage them to start reading independently by suggesting they ‘read to teddy’.

Tips from parents of deaf children

“Make sure you sit so your child can see your face and the book.”

“Don’t just read at bedtime as your child might be too tired.”

“If there are lots of lines on a page, use a piece of card to cover them up and reveal them as your child is reading.”

 It’s important to look out for books that promote positive images of deafness, for example, stories with deaf characters.

For more ideas and activities to support the development your child’s writing skills, read our resource Helping Your Deaf Child to Develop Language, Read and Write (3–4 year olds).

Develop your child’s writing skills
  • Through drawing and art, young children can develop skills to help them start writing. Early writing starts with ‘pretend’ writing at around 3 or 4 years. To help your child develop their control of pencils/crayons and their hand-eye co-ordination, try:
    • painting with finger paints
    • dot-to-dot pictures
    • tracing pictures
    • copying patterns and pictures
    • drawing in sand and on blackboards
  • To help your child start learning to write their name (or the first letter of their name for very young children) write it in big letters on a piece of paper and let them trace over it.

Tips from parents of deaf children

“Write things such as shopping lists together.”

“Put pictures of the alphabet in your child’s room.”

“Let your child ‘play write’ in pretend games.”

For more ideas and activities to support the development of your child’s writing skills, read our resource Helping Your Deaf Child to Develop Language, Read and Write (3–4 year olds).