Forget tutors and special classes, math skills begin at home. Give kids opportunities to think numerically —, encouraging them to count, sort and add, and their comfort with numbers will grow. A new study offers some ideas for ways parents can do this.
Belgian researchers evaluated Kindergarteners' abilities on symbolic and non-symbolic numerical tasks, and they also asked their parents how often they engaged the children in certain number-based activities. The more time parents spent counting with their children and calling attention to numbers, shapes and quantities, the better the children did on the numerical task assessment.
Count out snack foods with your child when you serve them; show how the number changes when you add or take away one.
The researchers, from KU Leuven, a research university in the Dutch-speaking town of Leuven in Flanders, Belgium, hope the findings will prompt policymakers to develop home numeracy programs, but parents can start right now, on their own. Make a point of counting out snack foods with your child when you serve them; show how the number changes when you add or take away one. Point out shapes. Have children measure ingredients when cooking or baking.
The study results don't indicate any cause-and-effect relationship. It is possible that children who are already interested and good at mathematics are triggering the interactions around numbers, instead of their parents.
The study is published in Frontiers in Psychology.