From day one, your baby started interacting with his environment. As he does this, he will use math concepts to make sense of the world around him. Math might sound too complicated for your tiny baby, but, on the contrary, turns out that he’s a natural mathematician and his math skills will start to develop during his first year of life. How? Since he is born, your baby has an understanding of math concepts. Let us show you which.
Your baby recognizes quantities. For example, when he cries because he wants more food or to spend more time with to you. This happens in the first few months. Much later, when he is around 11 months old, he will learn the meanings of “more” and “enough”, which are two of the first number concepts that children develop.
Another way in which he uses math skills from the very beginning is through patterns. He experiences these and routines every day, which enables him to become a logical thinker that analyzes how his environment works in a predictable way. Have you noticed that when you do something, he begins to recognize and anticipate what comes next? Maybe you just placed him where you usually place him while you fix up his bath, and you can tell he know what’s coming next. He begins to recognize and anticipate a pattern of sequential activities that demonstrates how you will care for him on a daily basis.
Once he recognizes patterns, he will also begin to understand sequencing. This is the particular order in which related events or things follow each other. When your little one starts recognizing sequences, he develops a sense of order, logic, and reasoning.
He sees the sequence of activities within his day and is able to predict what may happen next. By age one, your child will become more involved in activities that follow certain steps, such as going for a walk, eating breakfast, washing up, and brushing his teeth. Each of these activities represents a sequence of events for your child.
Sorting and classifying
Your son will become aware of similarities and differences among objects. This will allow him to sort and classify, two actions and mathematical concepts that are usually learned near when children are turning one. This will be accompanied by his first attempts to fit objects into containers of various sizes, which is the bases for learning geometry.
How can you help?
Once you know your baby is in contact with math concepts, you can help him develop them with intention and not only spontaneously. Here are some cool activities you can do at home.
- From 1 to 4 months, you can read books that incorporate math concepts; you probably have some of these at home. Even though it might seem that your little one is not understanding much, he is absorbing math and language skills! Plus, if you make it part of his routine it can be even more beneficial. You can also bounce him, while your partner claps. One clap per bounce will help him develop the foundation for his one-to-one skills which are related to future number awareness.
- From 4 to 8 months, you can use materials with different textures. Rub them over his legs and arms and talk about how they feel on his skin. You can also fill in empty water bottles with baby powder, cotton balls, paper clips, etc. Seal the lid and let him explore his new toy and start experimenting with its sound and weight. His curiosity will run wild and he’ll want to run many experiments! You can play Peek-a-boo and use math talk with phrases like “You have two eyes, two ears, one nose”.
- From 8 to 12 months you can tie a couple of colored scarves and put them through a paper towel tube, leaving one end sticking out. Once he is holding the tube, let your baby pull the scarves through the it. This will impact on his math skills, problem solving abilities and cause and effect thinking. You can also lay out boxes for your baby to crawl through and talk about what your baby is doing while he crawls, exposing him to language too!
During the day your baby has a lot of opportunities to discover math concepts through play and by hearing new math words. Math is everywhere! The more you engage with your little one in math play and math talk, the better chance he will have to develop the early foundations needed for learning math.
Whole Child Parenting by The Whole Child Parenting Program was consulted.
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