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Appreciation for Math Starts at Home!

By Too Small to Fail

Appreciation for Math Starts at Home!

Young children often show a thirst for knowledge that helps their brains develop. This thirst presents a good opportunity for parents to encourage an early appreciation for math, which improves brain growth, and serves as a foundation for math skills learned later in school. And the really good news is that early math learning can be fun for both parents and children!

While older children can learn math skills like multiplication and algebra in school, an appreciation for and understanding of math actually begins much earlier in a child’s life. Stanford University professor and early math expert Deborah Stipek explains that math learning—like all learning—begins in infancy. Parents can begin teaching math concepts to babies by pointing out shapes, quantities, and the sizes of things around them. These early math concepts serve as building blocks for later learning that will include more complicated math principles. And the more parents talk with their babies about math during the years their brains are rapidly expanding language, the more likely their children are to understand, and be comfortable with, “math talk” later on.

Parents and caregivers can use everyday, fun activities to establish an early appreciation for the math that is all around us. For example, parents can set up different size containers for babies and toddlers to play with—pointing out the shapes of each and their sizes. They can also point out the order of items on a grocery store shelf (“first”, “second”, “next to”, “last”), to help children learn numerical order. Even if a parent isn’t comfortable with math problems, they can help set their children up for future success by playing simple board games that improve counting and other math skills.

Resources for Sharing:

  • This article from PBS Parents explains why encouraging a love of math in children early on helps them when they enter school, and beyond—and check out these fun math games for babies and toddlers!
  • Our factsheet offers ideas for how parents and caregivers can talk, read and sing about math with their children every day.
  • Videos, tips for parents and math games for children of all ages can be found on the website, Math at Play!

VIDEO: Don’t know how to begin teaching young children about math? Use the furniture in your home! Check out this video on how to use a child’s environment for early math learning. >>

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