Recent discoveries about the brain show that preschoolers’ math capabilities are underestimated.
Preschools usually leave math operations for first grade, believing that children as young as 3 or 4 cannot understand that a number symbol represents a value. However, brain research shows that they are capable, and waiting isn’t a good idea.
Research has shown that even in infancy, babies can understand the difference between eight and sixteen dots. They use an innate sense that help us make size comparisons without having to count.
When children enter preschool, they can understand simple addition using manipulatives, even if they cannot understand equations. They get a strong math start in preschool with games and playful strategies that show how to use numbers and shapes, to show differences and relationships.
At South Shore PreK-8 in the Seattle area, kindergartners have the basic skills for elementary math as a result of teaching that challenges their abilities in age appropriate ways.. They have the highest rate in the district, and yet most live in low income families. The success is showing the need to change how math is taught to young children.