Preschoolers can do more math than you think

phys.org | 8/28/2018 | Staff
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Preschoolers are capable of learning more complicated math concepts than most parents realize, according to a new Vanderbilt study. What's more, these concepts can be easily introduced through simple games and tasks at home.

Lead author is Erica Zippert, a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Psychology and Human Development at Vanderbilt University Peabody College of education and human development. She and her colleague Bethany Rittle-Johnson recently published a report, "The Home Math Environment: More Than Numeracy" in Early Childhood Research Quarterly.

Study - Parents - Preschoolers - Counting - Number

Their study revealed that parents of preschoolers seem to reinforce counting and number recognition, and leave the more complex concepts to the child's future teachers.

Zippert explains that preschool age is not too soon to introduce these three fundamental math concepts:

Numeracy - Objects - Naming - Numbers

numeracy (counting objects as well as naming, comparing and combining numbers);

spatial skills (exploring dimensions; identifying features, like corners and sides; looking for orientations, and remembering locations of objects).

Parents - Number - Concepts - Counting - Numerals

"We found that parents primarily reinforced only the easier number concepts, like counting and numerals, and were less likely to support pattern and spatial skills," Zippert says. "We also found that parents spent less time providing math support through playful activities like reading number books and playing number games, and more time engaged in direct instruction of number concepts."

Parents can improve the way they help their preschoolers build a foundation for math in lots of fun and easy ways using items they already have around the house, she says:

Board - Games - Chutes - Ladders - Games

Board games like "Chutes and Ladders"and card games like "War" provide opportunities to count, compare and combine numbers through addition. They also provide lots of symbolic and non-symbolic number cues, such as spades/clubs on cards, and board game spaces and spinners.

Block and puzzle activities provide...