Patterns are all around us. Children have a natural tendency to find patterns; research shows that if you give a child a box full of cups, they will most likely stack them into a pyramid.

Patterns help children learn sequencing and to make predictions, which leads to stronger mathematical skills. Times tables, addition and skip counting all require an understanding in patterning. Parents can play a big role in helping their child discover and understand patterns, and often the best way to do it is through play.

1. Stack, sort and count blocks

If your child is in preschool, you can help them sort items before learning to recognise patterns. You can use different coloured blocks and have them stack, sort and count them.  By doing this simple and fun activity, your child will begin to notice things repeat in a certain order by size, shape or colour.

2. Match socks by size and colour

While folding the laundry, ask your child to help by matching socks by their size and colour, and then putting them into pairs. This introduces them to sorting and classifying based on pattern recognition. You can also use mittens and earrings. Count out loud by two’s with them so they become familiar with the concept of skip counting.

3. Sort kitchen items by category

Unpack your pots, frying pans, kitchen tongs and utensils and have your child help you sort them by category. You can guide them to sort the items by colour, shape, texture or size. Ask your child to name the groups of each category, like ‘containers’, ‘heavy objects’ or simply ‘black objects’. Sorting and classifying activities like this one encourage children to think analytically.