It’s playtime that adds up!

Bringing back the fun in fundamental maths

What comes to mind when you think Maths Buddy in a glass? Of course, NESTLÉ® NESPRAY® FortiGrow™ is at the top of the list but is playtime on the same list? Much like any buddy your child has, NESTLÉ® NESPRAY® Maths Buddy is one that loves to play and get very creative. After all, playtime is where most of the fun-damental lessons are explored and learned!

Playtime holds a lot of cognitive development benefits, especially when done with the intention of allowing your child to explore and find their own solutions to whatever problem they may face. Think about the last time your child was stuck on a jungle gym and cried out for you to get them down safely. You didn’t hesitate, naturally, but did you consider asking your child what they think a safe way down looks like? This doesn’t mean you would leave them to execute their idea. It just helps them see that they have the ability to solve their own problems when playing. Now playtime is an opportunity for them to show off their own skills and understandings. This is how they are able develop problem-solving skills when in a safe space under your watchful eye, so they know how to approach problems when they are all by themselves.

As their Maths Buddy, we want to share a few ideas on how to turn playtime into learning time, but still feels as fun as a game of hide-and-seek.

First, what maths means with regards to play: 
•    Messy
•    Active
•    Thinking
•    Happy
•    Solutions

Age is nothing but a number when it comes to how much fun it is to get messy! Every child loves the opportunity to get messy, especially when mom and dad give the stamp of approval. Encouraging playtime that gets messy unlocks your child’s creativity and ability to grasp difficult or unusual concepts.

So, let’s get messy:
•    Get them painting! Cover the floor of an entire room with blank sheets of paper and give your child free rein to use the paint as they choose on the covered floor. 
•    Mud! This limitless resource is amazing because it’s free and it will never run out considering it’s in your own backyard. This is where they explore nature and its different elements as well as measurements, considering every child’s ‘mud consistency’ is very different. So what’s your child’s water-to-sand ratio when they’re creating their perfect mud puddle? 
•    Cooking and baking! Yes, the kitchen might get a little messy, but in this case it’s a good thing. Cooking and baking are ultimately the most delicious maths equations because once your child has successfully measured every cup and spoon correctly, there’s nothing left but complete yumminess. 
•    Homemade clay! A fan favourite and perfect for the whole family. Clay is one of the most fun toys to make, because preparing it is all about measurements, getting messy and playing – all at the same time. All you need is some flour, water, salt, and food colouring.

When your kids are moving, you trust they are being strategic with every move they make and that’s exactly what you want to see. Here are some ideas for active playtime: 
•    Potato sack race! A classic that never gets old but needs a lot of strategy. We encourage you to allow your child to display ownership when playing this game with regards to the distance of the race, how many players are involved, etc.)
•    Hopscotch! Now this one is fun and an excellent way to bond over the different ways in which everyone in the family would lay out their own numbered squares to create the game. This game not only encourages physical activity but also reveals how your child notices patterns and how they create their own.
•    Sports! We only have one rule here. Allow them to pick the sports they are interested in exploring and playing. 

We can all agree that maths requires quite a bit of thinking. So, playing games that require the same or a similar kind of thinking is probably the best way to get your child practising maths without even noticing: 
•    Tetris! This game allows the whole family to school each other on some strategic thinking. It’s easily accessible, fun and creative. 
•    Snakes and ladders! 
•    Paper fortune teller! Mom and dad, remember when you played this origami-styled game? You picked a number and under that fold was a really funny dare that you just couldn’t get yourself out of doing. Now it’s time your child created their own dares and challenged you and their buddies to carry them out.
•    If you haven’t already, you need to get your child their very own 30 Seconds board game, and there’s a junior version for the very little ones. It’s a brilliant game of testing general knowledge measured against time. So here, strategy and creativity are king.

There’s nothing like your child playing outside or in another room and you catch the sound of their laughter – that belly laugh that fills the room. That is happy playtime and sometimes joy is all that’s needed to set the right mood for one of the trickiest subjects in school – maths.

Laughter and happiness have cognitive development as well as physical benefits, such as:

•    Stress relief.
•    Development of self-esteem.
•    Social skills.
•    Improving digestion.
•    Improving sleep.
•    Re-energising the body.
•    Increasing oxygen intake.

Solutions-based playing is a little like thinking-based playtime. However, there is a result or answer at the end of the game. Solution-based playtime allows for you and your child to explore creating your very own game.

When you and your child create your own game, you have to solve for every single step and determine:

•    The name of the game.
•    The number of players.
•    The rules of the game.
•    What equipment is needed for the game.
•    The winner’s criteria.
•    What makes the game fun to play.
•    Where the game can be played.