Connecticut Families Extra: Creating a math-friendly environment

Connecticut Families

(WTNH) — There are many things parents do to support their child’s math learning.

Researchers from Vanderbilt University surveyed parents of preschoolers about a wide variety of activities they do at home with their child. They found that when it comes to early math development, greater emphasis is placed on early numeracy, or the ability to count and compare numbers.

But developmental psychologist Bethany Rittle-Johnson believes, “there’s more to math than number.”

She says there are everyday activities that parents can do to broaden their preschooler’s math knowledge of not only numbers, but also spatial and patterning skills.

Rittle-Johnson said, “That include things like building with blocks and Legos and doing puzzles and using lots of spatial words like ‘up’ and ‘beside’ and ‘under’.

They also found that parents beliefs about their child’s math skills related to the type of support they provided.

“So if they thought their children were better in number, they were doing more number activities with their children,” Rittle-Johnson said. “And if they thought their children were better at making and thinking about pattern, they were doing more patterning activities with their children.”

But whether it’s legos, a card game, or building blocks, these all provide opportunities for parents to build up their child’s math skills.

Another thing the researchers found was that the parent’s beliefs in their own math skills, were related to the type of support they provided for spatial math, like playing with blocks. That is, if the parent was confident in their spatial abilities, or the ability to imagine things in three dimension, then they provided more support for spatial math.

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