How To (Almost) Instantly Teach Your Child Their Phone Number
This Tech Hack Will (Almost) Instantly Teach Your Child Their Phone Number
Today I wanted to show you how I taught my child her phone number. It takes about one minute to set up and is pretty much hands-off (on your part) after that. I hope you find it helpful!
Kids need to know essential names and numbers, like the primary phone number, address, and last name. Our daughter wants to learn these critical facts, but she could never remember her phone number.
Here’s my daughter.
People learn in many different ways, but kids tend to learn primarily through doing. Very simply, kids need to touch something they’re interested in to learn. It's not until kids are older that they can think in abstract terms (aka in their heads).
Which can make teaching a random string of digits, like a phone number, hard.
How Kids Learn
My daughter is becoming a reading/writing learner, but as a 5-year-old she still learns best through touch and manipulation.
This theory of tactile (touch) learning is why kids at Montessori schools tend to excel at math. Numbers are assigned a physical item to represent them. As a Montessori advocate, I knew if I could find a touch way to teach my child a phone number, she would have an easier time remembering it.
Every child will develop a unique learning style as they grow, but when teaching a young children a phone number, you need something they can touch.
From my research in child development, I know the two keys to getting my child to memorize her phone number are:
- The information has to be interesting, because you remember it if you're interested in it.
- We needed numbers she could touch (tactile).
But how do you make ten random numbers enjoyable, in a fast and easy way?
I tried writing out the numbers, playing memory games, and telling her how important it is that she be able to reach me. The “this is serious” angle worked for her street address, but she made little to no progress in remembering my phone number.
She could remember parts of my phone number, but if we didn’t practice every day the numbers slipped away.
Side note: We haven’t had a primary home phone in years. Her dad and I decided she would learn my phone number first since I’m the one responsible for her schedule.
I was frustrated, but a phone number to call in the case of an emergency is essential.
This Tech Hack Solved It
Within three tries, my daughter remembered her phone number. Within 24 hours, she was able to recite it from memory.
Our daughter watches a show or two on my iPad every day (we don’t have a television set). She usually watches an episode of Mr. Rogers or Octonauts, and then we turn it off. Too much tv isn’t good for anybody, but I love sweet shows in moderation!
We’ve always had a 4 or 6-digit passcode on the iPad, and our phones. Last year, an iPad/iPhone upgrade allowed 6-digit passcodes. I tried to teach my daughter the last six digits of my phone number. But it didn’t work because she could never remember the missing four numbers.
Then I stumbled across the “Set Custom Code” setting on the iPad. If I could enter the whole phone number, I bet she could remember it!
I changed the passcode to my full, 10-digit phone number and told it to her TWO TIMES, as she was logging in.
My only follow-through (and I think this was key) was to tell her she had to learn her digits to get into the iPad to watch her daily show.
Bam! Number memorized.
Now that she has memorized the phone number needed to access what interested her (her shows), I randomly ask her to repeat my phone number. The first couple times she reached for the iPad, and I let her so that she could visualize and touch the numbers.
But as she internalized the number, we stopped reaching for the iPad to see the keypad.
I keep asking her to say my phone number (so she’ll remember it’s a phone, and not just the iPad code).
It worked! We're planning on making one passcode my phone number and another her dad's.
Keeping reading for directions and video tutorials on how to teach your child their phone number using a custom passcode on a smartphone or tablet.
Instructions For Teaching Phone Numbers On Tablets/Smartphones
I’ve made a quick video of how to set a custom code on an iPad or iPhone. I’ve linked to resources for setting custom passcodes on other devices at the end of the page.
Here’s a screenshot video with a voiceover:
Here’s a video of me on the iPad, setting up the passcode:
iPhone & iPad
Here are the instructions for setting a phone number as a custom passcode on an iPhone or iPad, in order to teach your child their phone number.
- Click 'Settings'
- Scroll down to 'Passcode' (iPad) or 'Touch ID & Passcode' (iPhone)
- Enter current passcode
- Select 'Change Passcode'
- Enter current passcode
- Tap 'Passcode Options'
- Select 'Custom Numeric Code'
- Enter the phone number you wish to teach your child.
- Tap 'Next'
- Re-enter phone number to verify
- Tap 'Done'*
*NOTE: I noticed that both the iPad and iPhone kept the wheel spinning after I tapped 'Done'. I checked this multiple times and it did change the passcode, even though there is no notification of successful change. Just test it after a few seconds by locking and unlocking your device.
Here are some links to setting custom passcodes on other commonly used devices:
Bonus Safety Feature
Best of all, there’s a touch-based backup plan that she can access anywhere! If she’s ever scared or nervous and can’t remember the phone number, she can ask a safe adult to look at the keypad of a phone.
Now that she's off to preschool, playdates, and sleepovers, it's crucial she know how to reach me if she needs me. I'm toying with the idea of a screen-free phone watch (like this), but she still seems a bit young for it.
(I'll be reviewing this phone watch in the near future.)
In the meantime, learning her phone number via a custom iPad passcode did the trick!
Please take a moment to share if you found this helpful!