Supporting your child’s literacy and numeracy skills at home

The Early Childhood Ireland website has some great information and resources for families like these ideas for supporting literacy and numeracy skills at home

Supporting your child’s literacy and numeracy skills at home:

A list of fun and practical activities

Research shows that families are the most significant influence on their children’s learning and development. Through everyday activities at home, you can help your child to develop their literacy and numeracy skills.  Below are fun and practical activities you can do with your child. Doing these practical activities will help your child develop excellent reading and writing skills, be a good listener and develop good communication skills.

It is never too early to begin helping your child to develop skills in literacy and numeracy.  It can be as much fun for you as it is for your child. Read what you are reading aloud to your newborn. Children become attuned to the sound of your voice and the tones of the language you speak as their hearing develops. Have somewhere to store all your books so they don’t become a hindrance and make them accessible for all children’s ages. Start with cloth and board books of everyday things with few words that invite interactivity (e.g. ‘Where is the dog?’). Progress to more complex picture books with rhyming language.  While reading maybe say to your child ‘I wonder what will happen next or where they are going’

Toddler reading - Literacy and Numeracy

The following are some opportunities to enhance your child’s knowledge and practice skills in literacy and numeracy. The adult-child interactions are very important. Play is the natural way in which children learn.

In the Car

  • Be playful and play eye spy, for example ‘I spy with my little eye something the colour of green’ or depending on the child’s age ‘something beginning with A’
  • Count the number of red cars, blue cars, silver cars etc. that you see.
  • Count vans, tractors, trucks and buses.
  • Listen to a CD/iPod of stories and rhymes.
  • Sing songs and rhymes aloud in the car.


Food Shopping

  • Make a shopping list or depending on the age of the child, use a picture list.
  • Have fun and name the different food items you see.
  • Usually the fruit aisle is the first section you will come across. Children are fascinated by the fruit they know and the fruit they don’t know. Name them all.
  • Set the table with your child and count and name the utensils, for example knives, forks, spoons, and plates.
  • Describe the food you are eating.Describe the different colours and shapes of fruit.

Bath time

  • Follow children’s lead in the bath and name what they are playing with.
  • Use words such as floating, splash, flow, waves, bubbles, drops, washing and drying.
  • Use different containers to measure and pour water. Young children are learning maths all the time through a wide variety of play experiences.
  • Talk about the temperature of the water whether it is cold, colder, warm, and warmer.
  • Use describing words when talking about being safe in the bath.
  • Name the body parts as you dry them.


Meal time Use words such as big, bigger, fresh, frozen, sour or spicy.Count how many bottles, tins, and packets are in your basket or trolley.Recognise what colour they are and count items by colour.Children can help take the food out of your basket for the cashier.

  • Share stories at mealtime.
  • Talk about their experiences and your experiences you had that day.

You can get more information and resources at











  • When baking with your child, use different utensils to measure quantities for example teaspoon, tablespoon, cup or kitchen scales.
  • Get them to stir, pour and crack eggs.
  • Help them follow instructions on a recipe for making something.
  • Through these activities’ children learn naturally by doing.

Child sitting amongst leaves - Literacy and Numeracy















  • Make house hold jobs fun.  Let your child help you put away their clothes after washing and drying them. Count the items of clothing and name them as you put them away.  Together, put pairs of socks together.  This activity is a playful way of counting and matching.
  • Enjoy the local library. Libraries offer story times and activities for young children. Attending these sessions is a way to help your child become familiar with the library, have fun and enjoy books and stories.
  • Play guessing games, rhyming games, ball games, board games, and charades.
  • Go on nature walks, sound walks, sight walks or colour walks.
  • Provide and create props and materials for pretend play. Cardboard boxes are great fun.
  • Use language, for example heavy, light, empty, full, when children are playing with sand.
  • Sing songs and nursery rhymes with your child repeatedly.
  • Encourage your child to draw and write.
  • Notice the sizes of objects in the world around you.
  • Talk about words and signs children notice.
  • Use a calendar to talk about the date, the day of the week, and the weather.
  • Record on your phone or write down your child’s stories. Turn them into a book, animation, or slide show (with an app). Children will see the transformation of their spoken words into written words.
  • Record your child’s voice while they are telling you a story and play it back for them.
  • Check out interactive online family literacy programmes.
  • Research tells us that children’s regular engagement in literacy and numeracy across many different media supports good literacy outcomes. Be sure the experience is enjoyable, playful, and encourages your child’s active involvement.

    Futher Reading:

    Scéalta Blog

    Useful Website: The National Adult Literacy Agency’s website Help my Kid Learn.

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