At what age should kids learn math? — It’s one of the most central questions for any parent with growing children. No one wants to overload their baby with difficult exercises. On the other hand, no one wants to leave out the important steps during the development stage either. That’s why it’s important to know when exactly you should start teaching kids math.
Little known to most, children begin learning math from a very early age. In fact, they start their math journey from babyhood! It’s not trigonometry. Rather, the math of survival. Having a mathematical understanding is a necessary part of how we navigate the world. Naturally, kids begin to learn math at the same time they learn everything else: From birth on up.
We like to use the original approach and start teaching math from kindergarten. This is the age where kids can be asked to perform some meaningful tasks and are already socialized enough to interact in a group. Usually, it is more difficult for younger kids to concentrate on a specific task, as they will be looking and waiting for an adult. For younger kids, it is better to play with math with their mom, dad, brothers, and sisters. At that age, they are not yet ready to deal with abstract concepts and symbols. It’s better to put off teaching kids math for another year or so.
The Different Mathematical Concepts
Thinking mathematically involves more than just moving around numbers. We use math every day in our lives. Here are some examples of basic math concepts that might have slipped your notice:
- Shapes and Spatial Relationships — In other words, Geometry. This involves understanding the relationship between yourself and other objects in space.
- Measurement — Size and weight, quantity and volume, and time.
- Patterns and Variable Relationships — Recognizing and/or creating patterns of objects, events, sounds, colors, etc. This understanding that things can change with time and then be described are the building blocks of algebra.
- Collecting and Organizing Information — Receiving, sorting, arranging, and analyzing data to draw conclusions within an environment.
The last essential math concept involves numbers and their operative functions (i.e., counting, corresponding numbers to objects, order). It’s a more obvious math definition, so it missed the list, but it’s essential. Thus, with a greater understanding of early math concepts, we can be more thoughtful in infants’ and toddlers’ interactions. But how can we analyze this growth process as parents? Lucky for us, there’s been plenty of research done on the subject. Let’s look at how these math concepts slowly develop throughout the life of a young learner.
How Children Begin Learning Math
Generally, kids reach the same math benchmarks around the same age. From about 0 – 12 months old, infants understand size, cause and effect, and sequencing. For example, if you clap your hands, a noise will sound. Putting on that coat means you’ll go outside. The dog is small, but papa is big. Things like that. As they approach one year of age, they also begin to grasp spatial separation. Like realizing when a toy is inside or outside of a box.
Toddlers of ages 1 to 2 begin to recite numbers, match basic shapes, explore measuring by filling and emptying containers, and recognizing patterns. Some studies found that children aged 12 – 14 months old can keep track of quantities up to 3 — recalling if a box contained 1, 2, or 3 balls. By now, toddlers also learn to answer the “how many?” question. For example, they can count their age on their fingers.
Preschoolers (ages 3-4) begin to compare or contrast using classifications, count up to 20, and predict cause and effect, among other things. By Kindergarten age, children can draw symmetrical shapes, understand basic time concepts like days of the week, count on two hands, and can follow multi-step directions (‘first, then’ instructions.) From there on, we can more or less recall our own learning journey, or at least comprehend the learning process to a greater degree. These same concepts continue to advance and take larger forms throughout school, eventually leading into adulthood.
How to Help Your Child Improve Their Math
With a now clear insight on the process of gaining math skills, you can better aid your children on their math journey. Start teaching kids math with a clear image and goal in mind. Math is necessary to engage with our surroundings and, therefore, needs no introduction to a child — we are all born as mathematicians. It’s a good thing most parents and caretakers naturally take steps that keep youngsters improving their talents. Still, here are some quick tips for developing your child’s math:
- Sing songs or read stories that involve counting
- Ask “how many” or “what color is this” when with your child
- Point out shapes whenever you can
- Ask questions that compare and contrast size, weight, or distance
These tips aside, be sure to remain supportive with your child and don’t try to push them past their limits. A cognitive psychology report from Karen Wynn states that a 2 or 3-year-old who understands the meaning of “1” will take about six more months to understand “2” completely. Otherwise, keep using the tools and techniques which come naturally to guide your tots along their journey!