Maths in the early years is not just about being able to recite numbers. We can’t tell you the amount of times we have heard from parents,
“I am really worried about Timmy and his maths. On our playdate with Tina last week she counted all the way up to 10 - Timmy can’t do that!”
In fact, we’d say this is more like reciting the words to a song than it is mathematical ability. This is where the confusion often lays - reciting numbers is not the same as counting!
It is what the numbers being recited mean that really matters. An American study by the University of Delaware looked into ‘number competence’, which they describe as the understanding of the meaning of numbers, and later mathematical outcomes. They found compelling evidence that higher levels of number competence in the early years predicts stronger mathematical competency at the age of 9.
Another area of maths that is often overlooked is spatial reasoning and the understanding of shape. Spatial reasoning is essentially the ability to think of an object three dimensionally. It is the ability to consider how objects look from different angles, how they look on the inside (if you were to cut a shape in half for example), how objects fit together, like two squares together making a rectangle and how positions of objects relate to each other, like the teddy is on the chair.
Spatial reasoning and the understanding of shape involve solving problems by manipulating objects, visualising the results of movement and interpreting images from different perspectives, according to an article written for the British Society for Research into Learning Mathematics. It cites research that found that higher levels of spatial reasoning and understanding of shape, links to children’s later development of a mental number line, which predicts success in mental calculations and the understanding of numerical relations.
There are loads of ways you can help your child with the development of their mathematical skills at home. Click below for a great list of activities.