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Why Talking Math Matters

By Too Small to Fail

Why Talking Math Matters

Counting steps to the mailbox. Pointing out how much bigger a tree is compared to a sapling. Identifying the shapes of houses, road signs or other objects around you.  These are all ways that parents introduce math concepts into the learning of very young children. Early math can be fun and easy, and both parents and children benefit from the shared experience of talking about the math that surrounds us.

According to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, approximately 1 in 5 adults in the United States has difficulty understanding middle-school math. Unfortunately, this difficulty with math translates into difficulty managing many important tasks—like following recipes and calculating change. Familiarity with early mathematical concepts paves the way for more complicated mathematical and logical thinking in adulthood, which can be helpful in jobs and in other areas of adult life.

Studies have found that the more early math concepts children are familiar with by the time they enter school, the more likely they are to do well in math and other subjects later on. Much like vocabulary and early language skills, early math skills develop from infancy through simple interactions with loved ones. Early math is much more than just counting, however. Parents and caregivers can help their children develop an appreciation of math by using opportunities throughout the day to talk about math concepts like numbers, size order and shapes.

Parents can help their children learn to love math by incorporating math talk into every day activities and by encouraging their children to talk math back. No matter your comfort with middle-school math, working early math language into your day with your children is easy to do and will help them in the long run.

Resources for Sharing:

  • These tips from NAEYC help parents of infants and toddlers incorporate math talk and math activities into every day routines.
  • This article in the Seattle Times points out how children’s math problems begin before kindergarten—and how caregivers can help.
  • LOTS of different tips and resources from Math at Play for parents on how to incorporate math into everyday learning.

VIDEO: Who doesn’t love Sesame Street’s The Count for all things math? Fun video for parents and kids alike, here. >>

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