What do preschoolers know about math? Our research has shown that children as young as three and four know quite a bit about mathematical ideas and vocabulary terms. Here's what they can do:

  • 82-92 percent of preschoolers, given a mixed grouping of shapes, can pick out all of one type - rectangles, triangles, squares, or circles. 
  • Preschoolers are accurate at naming squares, even when the squares are tilted.
  • Many preschoolers also recognize rectangles, even when they are tilted.
  • The frequency of opportunities to learn math and the nature of the activities determine how well a child learns geometric concepts. A three-year-old with great hands-on experience with shapes can actually "out perform" a six-year-old who hasn't had the same opportunities.
  • Talking about their thinking helps children process and lets us understand which points they are grasping and which they are trying to figure out. 

Surprise! After a great start, statistics show that, as children get older, their knowledge about shapes doesn't necessarily increase. That tells us we're not doing an effective job building on children's good beginnings.