Here's a look at how children develop math skills, age by age - and how you can help them along the path to math!
Children's Math Development
A Child May
0 to 2
- use all her senses to identify familiar objects and people around her.
- begin to predict and anticipate sequences of events.
- notice cause-and-effect relationships.
- begin to classify objects in a simple but thoughtful manner-for example, toys that roll, toys that don't.
- use language to classify objects according to basic characteristics, such as type (toy animals, blocks). begin to use relationship words and comparative language, such as bigger and under.
- begin to understand the concept of numbers.
2 to 3
- begin to understand the concept and use of numbers-she realizes, for example, that when she counts her crackers, each is given one number.
- count three or four objects, but then count the same object twice or skip objects.
- understand many directional and relational words, such as straight and behind.
- be able to fit large puzzle pieces into place, demonstrating an understanding of the relationships between geometric shapes.
- notice patterns in the things he sees and hears.
- be able to make cause-and-effect predictions.
3 to 4
- recognize and look for geometric shapes in the environment.
- enjoy sorting and classifying objects, usually by only one characteristic at a time - color, shape, size.
- begin to classify things by their uses.
- notice and compare similarities and differences.
- use words to describe size and quantity relationships - "My bowl is the biggest! "
4 to 5
- enjoy playing games involving numbers.
- struggle with classifications that aren't obvious.
- count objects or people up to 10 or 20 with less skip-counting or double counting.
- understand that symbols represent complex patterns.
- solve multiple-piece puzzles by recognizing and matching geometric shapes.
- use concepts such as height, size, and length to compare objects.
5 to 6
- begin to be able to add small numbers in his head but still be most comfortable adding real objects he can actually touch and move.
- classify objects according to more than one characteristic-sorting the round and blue blocks and the red square ones.
- have a long attention span for activities that interest him.
- use positional words to explain spatial relationships.
This article originally appeared in the January, 2001 issue of Early Childhood Today.