As children grow towards formal education, parents are concerned to give them a head start and this includes maths. The common routine for this is to present the child with counting rhymes and songs and have them play apps that count balloons and record answers etc.
While this approach to numbers has some benefit for children, it is limited in developing a deep sense of number that would give them a sound foundation for what’s to follow at school. Games like Snakes and Ladders are different. They provide learning in a fun journey over the games board and it is surprising how deep maths thinking evolves. Here are some of the benefits:
The game is played with a 6 sided dice. One of the early targets for learning maths is for the child to recognize small quantities without having to count them and playing with a dice is a great way to start this process.
The children are constantly counting. At first they will use a finger to count their token forward, but as they recognize patterns, they will just jump the token ahead to the desired location.
Perhaps the greatest benefit of the Snakes and Ladders game is the amount of maths that child does along the way. Even though it makes no difference to the moves in a game, each child is constantly working out their chance to win. They calculate things like how far away is the next ladder, how far away is the end, how far in front or behind am I. And of course each move of the opponent is closely supervised to prevent cheating.
Traditional games like snakes and ladders are brilliant at
developing maths in young children. If you want it to be of benefit though,
make sure you are using a real dice and a real board because using an app loses
nearly all the benefits. If your child is over the challenge of playing Snakes
and Ladders, try playing backwards and another world of learning will open up.