Maths and Young Children
© Beverley Paine
Gerard asked: "I'd like to know at what age it would be relevant to start an infant on mathematics... What process is involved initially to start using numbers and their value?"
I wouldn't simply focus on numbers and their value. Maths is so much more than this.
Think about spacial qualities - talk about the shape of things. Talk about colours. Learning occurs mostly through language and conversation - you can talk your head off, describing all kinds of things in a friendly, meaningful way... When reading picture books talk about the pictures - the tall, pointed mountain, the gently curving stream. Use adjectives to their full advantage. All this build firm mathematical concepts. It is never too early to do this.
Another really important aspect of grounding mathematical knowledge is touch - young infants and children need to feel the world around them. Lots of opportunities, combined with interesting and meaningful comments from folks around really cement those early concepts in - this is the foundation of scientic, especially physics, knowlegde and understanding too.
Don't coddle the toddler in a clean environment - let them explore the messier and gooier sides of life! Obviously be careful - always be nearby to supervise what your child is doing.
One thing I like doing is chatting about that frustrating process of dropping things that babies delight in. "Oh, the red side landed on the ground first this time. What will happen next? Oh the blue one, see the blue one. Wow, wasn't that noisy? That is four times you've dropped it!"
They just love the singsong pattern of sounds - watch their eyes 'listening' to your voice! It is so exciting!
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