Children use mathematics from a young age without being explained how – math is intuitive for humans! For example, kids learn and understand addition and subtraction by sharing with others.
Babies make small steps in understanding causal relationships (eg. this toy makes a sound when it’s shaken) and relative sizes (parents are big, baby is small). When toddlers show how old they are using their fingers they’ve started understanding that “how many” is connected to quantity.
When a child is five years old they can often connect numbers to quantity using their fingers, recognize numbers and count up to twenty.
This article explains how math understanding is created through experiences, patterns, spatial understanding, shapes and so on. When a child is five years old they can often connect numbers to quantity using their fingers, recognize numbers and count up to twenty. Many 5 year olds know which number is the largest in a selection and start understanding words like uncertain and possibly.
When a child starts school there is obviously more and more to learn and children are taught concepts that aren’t as intuitive to learn. It’s often through these introductions the first negative connotations to mathematics arise. Maybe they’ve heard from a parent that math is boring and imagine that mathematics is not for them, which again may lead to thinking that mathematics is not something I will ever understand.
Many adults have a troubled relationship with mathematics. This can unwittingly be transferred to children, laying a foundation for the child and math that is anything but ideal. Make math fun for kids instead!
An older study done in Swedish preschools found that it seemed implicit that math had to be baked into other activities because the prevalent opinion was that math was boring. In schools and preschools there have been made enormous changes after this study was carried out, but many parents haven’t been updated in the same way.
To encourage positive associations with mathematics, it’s important for children to solve (or get help to solve) math tasks where they can experience the joy and satisfaction of solving problems. These tasks can be talking about simple things in everyday life and explaining that such and such is actually mathematics. Small steps to build a solid foundation for the child (and maybe for the parent as well?).
Have you thought about the fact that you use math when you bake?
Many of the tasks we do in our everyday life are connected to mathematics in some form. All you have to do is notice and bring attention to it! By talking about math in an everyday context children can see its prevalence, understand that they have capabilities for using it and that it can be fun! Have you thought about the fact that you use math when you bake? When you build with blocks? When you play hopscotch?
Ask yourself the question – what kind of mathematics do I use in this activity? Below, we’ve gathered some instances where you might not have reflected on the mathematical content:
Mathematics is fun when you understand the context!
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