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How young is too young to start learning math?

by : MathRise
posted on : 12/13/2012

When should children start learning the fundamentals?

New parents often wonder at what age children should start learning math fundamentals. The answer may surprise you: It is never too young.

Early childhood research has shown your child’s first few years are most crucial for language, color, and number development. Even the simplest things infants and toddlers do, like playing with blocks or emptying and refilling a sand pail, can lead to better-behaved, more structured, and perhaps even smarter children.

Dr. Eugene Guist, author of “Children are Born Mathematicians”, adds “Mathematic concepts develop over the first three years of life through a child’s interactions with their environment.”
What this means is every game your child plays should be thought of as a learning experience. Every behavior they witness, good or bad, is an opportunity to develop structure, consistency, and a sense of safety.

Think of it this way: The physical world and the objects around your young child make up their “school”. As parents, we control our child’s learning by controlling their learning environment. The way we present it allows us to teach specific lessons with useful teaching tools.

Many parents have a general understanding their child is continually learning, even when they are at play. What the majority of parents don’t know is which games and which activities are more likely to encourage understanding of pattern based knowledge. Understanding patterns often leads to better skills in many areas including classification, comparison, timing, and structure.

It’s a well-known fact that participation in your child’s activities has a lifelong impact. Here is a list of common childhood activities and what your child is learning during these activities:

Building with blocks: sorting and separating

What type of play:

  • Building stable structures with similar blocks
  • Stacking similar cups or boxes into piles
  • Creating piles of like objects

A child is learning:

  • How to classify objects by shape, type, size or color
  • Basic logic skills - these are alike, they go together
  • Basic quantity skills ("I need this many to make this."

**quantities are the basis of math and science

Playing with blocks: group play and beyond

What type of play:

  • Group play - building forts and castles
  • Playing with peg-boards
  • Playing with stacking rings
  • Building and destroying structures

A child is learning:

  • Concepts of balance, gravity, symmetry, shape, geometry
  • Mathematical concepts
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Concentration and abstract creativity
  • Sharing, cooperation and social interaction with others
  • Organization of materials

Playing with objects: Ordering by size or color

What type of play:

  • Stacking blocks in order by size
  • Stacking objects by color (red/green/red/green)

A child is learning:

  • How to classify objects
  • Simple pattern structures: more/less, small/big, one color/another color
  • Quantity and size relationships
  • Basic counting skills

Musical play: dancing and making music

What type of play: 

  • Moving to the beat of a song
  • Shaking a maraca to the beat of a song
  • Counting and moving
  • Creating original dances and songs

A child is learning:

  • One-to-one comparisons - one beat equals one body movement
  • Basic planning skills - first I move this, then I move that, then I….
  • Basic patterns - fast beat, slow beat
  • Basic number sense - beat comparisons
    one-to-one, two-to-two, etc…

Pretend play: using one thing to represent another

What types of play:

  • Making a stuffed animal talk - giving them a personality.
  • Pretending a stack of blocks is a castle or a car
  • Hosting a make believe tea party

A child is learning:

  • One thing can represent another
  • Letters can represent sounds
  • Numbers can represent amounts
  • A jellybean can represent a person

Filling and emptying containers

What type of play:

  • Sandbox activity - fill and empty the bucket
  • Bathtub activity - fill the cup and empty the cup
  • Placing blocks into a box
  • Placing shapes into a peg-board

A child is learning:

  • Basic fine motor skills - it is easier for them to empty than fill
  • Cognitive exercise - one thing or object can hold another object in it
  • Size and amount relationships - small containers hold less than large ones

Parents who encourage their children to participate in guided extracurricular learning activities are helping them build a strong foundation. Use descriptive words during playtime to describe objects like “red ball” and “big cup”.

Practicing basic fundamentals like sorting, comparing differences in size and amount, comparing geometric shapes, and even imitating patterns in music, in behavior, or in speech can help your child to build the basic skills required for lifelong success in math, reading, and science.

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Tuesday, May 23, 2017







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