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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We began educating our children in 1985, when our eldest was five. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn since they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. We hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was! Beverley Paine
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