You may be surprised by how important early math skills are. Research studies have shown that math abilities in grade K and grade 1 are the biggest predictor of future academic success.
While the research is pretty clear on the best way to teach math, it simply hasn’t made its way to most schools. So even if a school may be using doing many activities, using educational aids and toys, it doesn’t guarantee that your child is getting the best inputs.
You can find links to a few research studies below. In this article, we help you identify the core principles of early math education. You can evaluate yourself if your child is getting all the right inputs. If yes, you have nothing to worry about. Else, you may have to take a few more steps to help your child build the right foundations.
The main goal of early math education
At a young age, more than the reciting numbers, building number sense if of utmost importance. Number sense involves:
- understanding the meaning of numeric symbols,
- understanding that numbers are flexible and can be broken, and
- understanding that numbers share certain relationships.
Once this foundation is set, children are well prepared for the coming academic years. However, building number sense is not trivial. Often children grapple with the ideas if they are not introduced in the right manner. And if not learned the right way, learning gaps can show up years later.
Do children understand the meaning of numbers?
Now here’s something important: When learning letters of the alphabet children are always asked to contextualize the letters. Children learn that A is for an apple, B is for a ball, and so on… However, the same contextualization is often not used for numbers. Children as asked to recite numbers almost as a song. So, they learn the sounds but don’t associate them with any meaning. As a result, if you ask them to hand over 6 blocks from their toy set, they may simply hand over a few without counting.
They haven’t made the association between the sound “six” and the count of six objects. This can have disastrous consequences in the years to come. Understanding that quantities can be represented by symbols (in our example, the number of blocks can be represented by the symbol “6”) is a very important idea.
Do children understand that numbers represent different magnitudes?
Understanding that 8 is greater than 7 is another important idea that children have to build. Once again, this fact is not obvious for children, especially if they have simply memorized the numbers. After all, the letter D is not greater than the letter C. So why should 8 be greater than 7?
Do children understand that numbers are flexible and can be broken?
One of the biggest mathematical ideas is that numbers are flexible and can be broken in many different ways. The number 6 can be thought of as made up of 4 and 2; or 5 and 1. This ability to decompose numbers into two or more constituents influences how fluent children are in addition and subtraction.
Learning gaps from an early age may show up years later
Given the foundational nature of mathematics, gaps in understanding built as early as grade 1 or 2, can show up years later when studying an advanced concept. One research study found that by seventh grade, children who lagged behind their peers were the ones who had the lowest scores on an assessment of number system knowledge in first grade.
Math requires an expert. Not all schools specialize in helping children build number sense
While the research on the best way to learn math is pretty clear, it has unfortunately not found its way to most schools. Many schools use blocks, and other educational aids to teach children but just using educational aids does not guarantee that math is learned the right way. Building a strong number sense requires dedicated attention and learning resources.
Cuemath ensures that children build a strong number sense
That’s where Cuemath comes in. The Cuemath program draws on the latest research. Teachers are trained to focus on building a strong number sense in children. Children learn not through drills and repeated practice but by doing activities and building an intuition for numbers.
Also, classes are designed so that they do not pressurize a child. Children build a healthy and positive attitude towards math. Building a positive relationship with math from an early age is important to make sure they are on the right path for higher grades and more advanced concepts.
Thus, in summary:
- Early math abilities are the biggest predictor of future academic success.
- The main goal of math education in the early years should be number sense.
- Number sense involves understanding the meaning of numeric symbols, understanding that numbers are flexible and can be broken, and understanding that numbers share certain common relationships.
- If learning gaps get built at an early age, they will show up years later when studying more advanced concepts.
- This research while pretty clear hasn’t made its way to most schools.
- Cuemath program evolves constantly and incorporates all the best practices from educational research.
- Cuemath focuses on building a strong number sense. This ensures a smooth road for the later academic years and beyond school.