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The Importance of Early Mathematics Learning

Written by Rebekah O’Flaherty

The importance of early childhood learning and its impact on future development, health and wellbeing is widely acknowledged. However, many parents do not appreciate the significance of early mathematics learning and the advantages it brings. Early exposure to foundational numeracy has been shown to provide the critical building blocks for future exploration of mathematical concepts.  

It is known that shape is one of the first mathematical concepts that children can engage with. Building on this knowledge of how they perceive information allows us to introduce mathematical concepts early, which strongly influences their later achievement in mathematics. Research has also shown that learning numeracy skills increases oral language abilities including vocabulary, inference, independence and grammatical complexity. Further concentration, curiosity, imagination, flexibility, inventiveness, persistence and working memory also benefit from early numeracy exposure. 

Typically, parents are less concerned with the promotion of numeracy skills and place more focus on the literacy development of their children. Many believe that young children are not yet ready to grasp the foundational concepts of mathematics and that numeracy is better introduced at school. However, research suggests that young children have the potential to develop far more complex mathematical thinking than previously thought.  

With the integration of new technologies becoming so prevalent in today’s society, it is essential to capitalise on their effectiveness in the learning environment. As the usage of digital technology increases, so too does the importance for parents and teachers to educate and equip themselves with the latest digital learning tools. Teaching young learners to confidently and appropriately engage with these technologies provides valuable skills to prepare them for future learning.  

There is a significant link between digital technologies and their relationship to numeracy development, logical-mathematical understanding and problem-solving skills. At 3P Learning, we believe in an integrated approach to mathematics education, which includes physical and digital elements, so families can find the right balance for their children using our full range of resources, blogs, ideas and tips. 

What we do know is that children can feel anxious about learning mathematics. This anxiety can, in turn, lead to avoidance of mathematics, which does not help their understanding of key concepts. Of course, a child will choose to avoid doing something at all costs if the stress outweighs the enjoyment! The key is making mathematics engaging for all children to enjoy. Research shows that introducing mathematics concepts from an early age – even before preschool – leads to better outcomes in the future.  

Parents are the child’s first and most influential teachers and their involvement and engagement is critical for the development of positive attitudes to early learning. In the end, it comes down to parents creating and fostering a favourable attitude towards mathematics as early as possible.  

Parents have the ability to create a caring and encouraging learning space while supporting their child’s early development. It is imperative that parents are engaged in the nurturing of mathematical skills and positive attitudes in their children’s early years. 

The results from the recent Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) reveal that Australia has slipped to the 28th position in the world mathematics rankings, falling 10 places since 2011. This raises the question, is mathematics a learnt skill or is it just a skill that comes naturally to some?  

Studies have recognised that mathematics does not, in fact, stem from natural ability, but is a learnt skill that needs to be nurtured, practised and developed. Creating a positive attitude to early numeracy learning provides the foundation for children to develop a growth mindset in mathematics. 

Baby Mathletics has been created to help babies and toddlers take their first steps on their journey as life-long learners. The new Baby Mathletics — Shapes App is designed for children aged 6 to 24 months to provide positive and engaging mathematics activities with the potential to set them up for greater achievement, confidence and success in all future learning.  

A mathematical storybook that has been brought to life, the Baby Mathletics — Shapes App introduces young learners to an extensive range of unique shapes with a 3D look and feel. As children turn the pages, lively and enthusiastic animations will engage with them and provide the opportunity for parents to pose questions, stimulate reactions and spark new interests in learning.  

The Baby Mathletics — Shapes App is available now on the iTunes App Store for iPads and iPhones – $2.99. For more information, please visit: www.babymathletics.com. 

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