Mathematics and young children

Children learn mathematics from an early age. Before they have even entered school, they have already assimilated some mathematical concepts and this introduction started with the help of an adult. Counting with their fingers helps him discover the first numbers and their order. There is no need to get into deep mathematical reasoning, on the contrary, every simple occasion of everyday life is a way for him to learn the basics. When you ask him to go get his pair of shoes, he understands the concept of a pair. When you show him which one of his towers of blocks is taller, he understands comparing. Teaching math to your child at a young age, will help him assimilate it easier later on when he is at school.
By “mathematical awakening” we mean the concepts that the child will assimilate at his own pace, such as:
  • Recognizing the numbers: the symbols from 1 to 10
  • Reciting the numbers in order: from 1 to 10
  • Understand the logic of the numbers: 2 comes after 1 and before 3, because 2 is one more than 1 and one less than 3.
  • Make comparisons: distinguish which tower of blocks is higher than the other
This learning process takes place by steps. There aren’t any rules about this subject, the age groups, that we are mentioning here are just indicative. Between 6 months and a year, the baby learns to stack the blocks and to fit them in the containers. He can also start distinguishing that a toy is bigger than others and to estimate quantities just by looking at them. Between one and three years old, the toddler starts to familiarize themselves with the numbers. He can start naming them and can recite them from 1 to 10, of course, not always in the right order. He will know that if we take 1 from 2 it will only remain one. If we add 1 to 2 we will have 3. Between 3 and 5 years old, he will know more about the numbers and will be able to answer questions such as “How many candies do I have?”
There are many activities that can be done with the child in order to teach him mathematics:
  • Count out loud with the help of his fingers and toes when he is taking a shower.
  • Use numbers as much as you can : Name and describe what he is seeing “there are 2 toys, this one is bigger than that one”. Ask him which glass has more milk.
  • Count the steps on the stairs when you are going up or down with him.
  • Sing songs that use numbers: “ One kilometer on foot wears out your shoes” or “one, two, three, let’s go to the forest”. This way, the child will learn the sequence of the numbers.
  • Put the table with him:”we need four dishes”, “how many glasses will I need?” and count systematically those elements with your child.
  • Play Simon says: “Simon says you jump three times”, “Simon says you clap your hands five times”.
Geometry is a very important concept when we are teaching mathematics to children. In fact, geometry is an essential mathematical concept. Young children can quickly become familiarized with this concept thanks to several educational toys that consist of sorting shapes: round, square and triangular. The child thus improves its perception of space and improves his logical mind.
Introducing your child to mathematics is the best way for him to quickly memorize numbers, understand mathematical logic and learn how to make calculations. As you can see on the activities mentioned before, you don’t have to be a math lover to introduce your child to this subject. We know that learning mathematics from an early age has a positive impact on academic success in the long term. For example, children who started learning math during their early childhood have more facility with this subject in school, but that’s not all. It seems that this also improves their performance in reading and writing and later on in science, when compared to other children.

Max and Lea’s tips:

Introduce him to math at an early age

There are many opportunities to introduce your child to mathematics in fun ways. We have given you several examples of activities that are easy to perform and that can be practiced from an early age. However, there is an endless quantity of activities that you can do. You probably have ideas that could be effective. Any exercise that allows the child to use numbers is beneficial for him.

Give him fun tools

In order to help your child learn math, you could give him fun toys that will introduce him to the numbers and shapes. There are many toys on the market such as shape sorting toys (which are excellent to learn about geometry and discovering spaces), stacking cubes (perfect for understanding the sequence of numbers) and learning boards which can be an all in one toy, and introduce them to the numbers at the same time they learn about association of quantities and colors.

Stay attentive

It is possible that your toddler is not interested in some activities that you propose. But don’t worry about it: it could be too early for him to start with this activity. Do not insist! Wait some weeks to try this toy or activity again and if he is still not interested, choose another one. There are so many that it will be a pity to focus on just one.

Avoid educative games on a screen

At Max & Lea we are convinced that there are many ways to introduce children to mathematics. Even if some educational games on the screen can have some benefits, we do not advise exposing your child to screens before a certain age. For more information about this subject, we recommend you to read our article “Children and Screens“.

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