I didn’t really realize how much we need this…

This booklet, from Early Childhood Family Education, came into our home over the weekend.


Forgive the decorations, please. They are not mine.

Naturally, I was curious to see what it had to say about early math development.


Zero, zip, zilch. Not one word.

There are entries on Joining libraries (“They make literacy fun!”), Literacy (A full two-page spread), Writing, and Words (“Words are powerful!”)

Nothing on Number, Shape, Pattern, Counting, Math or Numeracy. I hereby humbly submit the following entries.

Counting. Children learn counting language before they learn about numbers. They learn this language through example and repetition. You and your children can count together soon after they begin to talk. Model correct counting and don’t worry about your child’s incorrect counting. Have fun with numbers. And when a child asks, “Want to see how high I can count?” the correct answer is always Yes!

Shape. Children find shapes fun. While you are at the library picking up alphabet books, grab a couple of shapes books, too. Noticing shapes in the world is the first step to success in geometry and measurement, important parts of the math your children will learn in elementary school.

Children love to get their hands on interesting shapes, too. Shape puzzles and toys can help young children to notice and investigate properties of shapes such as size, symmetry and angles.

Math. Recent research suggests that early number skills are at least as important for school success as early reading skills. Among the best ways to develop these early number skills is talking math with your kids. Look for opportunities to talk about number as you go about your day. Two year olds love to count out loud, whether or not there is anything to count. Three and four year olds can count objects in their world (salami slices in a sandwich, eggs in a carton, blocks in a building they made, etc.) And children at this age can begin to imagine quantities that are not in front of them. “How many crackers do you want?” and “Let’s put some out for your sister, too. How many will we need for the two of you?” are the kinds of questions that will help your child notice and think about numbers in the world.

Before children enter school, they do not need memorized number facts. They do need to have lots of experience counting and talking about numbers.


4 responses to “I didn’t really realize how much we need this…

  1. Love this. And perfect timing – I’m holding my newborn as I read!

  2. Maybe to add to your shape entry: my one-year-old LOVES wooden puzzles, and is starting to figure out that even though the circle piece goes in any way at all, the square and rectangle need to be turned until they line up. I can see the concentrations on her little face as she’s working on it!

  3. Yes, Gretel, puzzles. Good. Consider it done.

  4. I see this issue as well, regularly. I wrote this as a response to an article suggesting that kids just need to hear about numbers more often. http://davidwees.com/content/raising-mathematicians

    Puzzles, games, and interaction with numbers on a daily basis are very important. It’s not enough to just say the numbers and get kids counting (but you should absolutely count, and often, with your children), they have to see the numbers in application in a variety of contexts in order to understand them.

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