It’s now 2018 and there are messages all over the place in this 21st-century world of ours about how an early start in mathematics could make a huge difference in the future lives of today’s children. Now, I list 3 reasons for engaging preschoolers in mathematical thinking as soon as you perceive an interest. For each reason, you can click on the title and go to a page providing you with a few more details as well as references.
- Early Math Skills Boost Later Achievement Results of a longitudinal study published in 2007 found early math skills to be the strongest predictors of later achievement in both math and reading. This finding was unexpected as researchers’ preconceptions focused on literacy and social skills acquired before kindergarten as the most likely predictors of academic success.
- Young Children’s Amazing Brains Recent brain-imaging studies of infants and toddlers suggest that human brains begin functioning on a high level long before children are old enough to verbalize their thoughts. Children have innate abilities which are mathematical in nature, including a perception of objects as discrete physical units; a quantitative sense of more or less; and geometric navigational abilities. In a 2014 presentation made by Professor Herbert Ginsberg of Columbia University about “an unhappy baby mathematician” he advocates that we begin math conversations with children while they lie in their cribs or bassinets looking up at us.
- Learning Trajectories Studies of how children learn mathematics identify typical paths or “learning trajectories” for particular topics. Each new step along path builds on earlier steps.