Isn’t it ironic that Mathematics, a subject dreaded by most students is the one subject that should be taught to them early on as babies? No, this is not idle talk or wishful thinking and we’re not saying this just because we’re Math experts. There are academic studies and observations that provide us with empirical evidence.
In 2007, a group of researchers led by a psychologist, Greg Duncan, found that “early Math concepts such as knowledge of numbers and ordinality were the most powerful predictors of later learning.” Children who were proficient in Math at an early age were found to remain consistent in that proficiency not just with Math, but also in reading and general academic performance. By 2010, Elisa Romano, another psychologist reproduced Duncan’s study and got the same results. Yet another study led by renowned psychology expert, David Lubinski, discovered that in both males and females, people who exhibited Mathematical intelligence early in life turned out to be the same people making ingenious contributions and taking up leadership in critical occupational roles.
Sadly, the current state of Math education is not exactly set up to achieve these results. Here are a few tips on how we can make things better.
Incorporate Math Concepts into Kindergarten Curriculum
Lining up numbers and having kindergartners memorize the ‘1-2-3-4’ does not cut it. There’s no skill being imparted by mere counting and the numbers are at best insignificant. As Deborah Stipek, Stanford Professor of developmental psychology puts it, “learning to count by rote teaches children number words and order, but it does not teach them number sense, any more than singing the letters l-m-n-o-p in the alphabet song teaches phonemic awareness.” Instead, numbers, as well as other Mathematical concepts like geometry should be contextualized for kids.
Parents, Put Aside the Math Fallacies and Phobia
For a lot of children, their failure in Math is established from home. Parents need to stop projecting their fears and failures of Math to their children. Stop telling them “Math is hard!” Encourage them from birth because, even before they head to school, there’s a lot you can do.
See Math in Everything
Parents, now that you know how much Math proficiency benefits your child, you’ll do well to become Math-conscious. Math is all around you. It’s in the number of diced carrots you give them for dinner and in the shape of their favourite Legos. Call their attention to it. Don’t wait till they’re in school before they get ‘introduced’ to Math.
Play math-related games. Make math fun
This is even way easier today. The choices are endless. There are the classic card games, puzzles, board games, and building blocks. Then there is the infinite collection of games accessible via the internet or downloadable as apps. Shisima, Ayo, Chess, Snakes and ladders, and Prodigy are some of the games you can enjoy with your children. Who knows? You might even find yourself falling in love with Math! As you play these games, remember to let them know that the skills being used are Math skills. It helps to build confidence in their Mathematical abilities.
David Lubinski, Camilla P. Benbow, and Harrison J. Kell; http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0956797614551371
David C. Geary, Mary K. Hoard, Lara Nugent, and Drew H. Bailey; http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0054651
Alan Schoenfeld and Deborah Stipek; http://earlymath.org/earlymath/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Math-Matters-Report_2ndEd1.pdf
Laura Lewis Brown; http://www.pbs.org/parents/education/math/math-tips-for-parents/instill-a-love-of-math/
Hank Pellissier; https://www.greatschools.org/gk/articles/early-math-equals-future-success/
Elisa Romano, Lyzon Babchishin, Linda Pagani, and Dafna Kohen; https://www.researchgate.net/publication/46168951_School_Readiness_and_Later_Achievement_Replication_and_Extension_Using_a_Nationwide_Canadian_Survey