Slogan
Icon

Article A

Mathematics education for young children is not new. Mathematics has been a key part of early childhood education around the world at various times during the past 200 years. For example, in the 1850s, Friedrich Fröbel in Germany introduced a system of guided instruction centred on various ‘gifts’, including blocks that have been widely used to help young children learn basic mathematics, especially geometry, ever since (Brosterman, 1997). In the early 1900s in Italy, Maria Montessori (1964), working in the slums of Rome, developed a structured series of mathematics activities to promote young children’s mathematics learning. Research on children’s learning in the first six years of life validates the importance of early experiences in mathematics for lasting positive outcomes.

Throughout the early years of life, children notice and explore mathematical dimensions of their world. They compare quantities, find patterns, navigate in space, and grapple with real problems such as balancing a tall block building or sharing a bowl of crackers fairly with a playmate. Mathematics helps children make sense of their world outside of school and helps them construct a solid foundation for success in school. In elementary and middle school, children need mathematical understanding and skills not only in math courses but also in science, social studies, and other subjects. In high school, students need mathematical proficiency to succeed in course work that provides a gateway to technological literacy and higher education [1–4]. Once out of school, all adults need a broad range of basic mathematical understanding to make informed decisions in their jobs, households, communities, and civic lives.

Mathematics is a subject all children take in school. Some children love mathematics while others struggle. Often the children who struggle in mathematics wonder aloud about the reasons for learning math at all. If your child asks a similar question, or feels that math is a waste of time, below are some important things your child needs to know about Mathematics.

Problem Solving

Learning math improves your child’s problem solving skills. Even as a very young elementary school student, she builds her ability to solve problems by learning to calculate simple arithmetic problems, such as one plus one. Every new math level she tackles requires her to expand her ability to dissect a problem and solve each individual part. She can apply this to her life as she gets older. Even in relationship building, problems often need to be broken down into sections to get to the core problem and solution.

Indirect Uses

Not every child wants to be a mathematician. However, all children can benefit from strong math skills. The problem solving processes used in mathematics classes develop logic skills. The trial and error required to solve math problems is useful in science and statistics. Taking the time to work through math problems and arrive at the correct answer teaches your child persistence and perseverance. Outside of school, activities children engage in such as crafts, tinkering with electronics or cooking all indirectly relate to the problem solving abilities learned in math class.

Career Uses

Many careers require a strong mathematical foundation. Engineers, scientists, mathematicians, accountants and doctors all require exceptional math skills. Strong math skills are not just for the aforementioned careers. Small business owners, construction workers, librarians and even homemakers all use math to some degree.

Mathematics equips children with a uniquely powerful set of tools to understand and change the world. These tools include logical reasoning, problem-solving skills, and the ability to think in abstract ways. As such, mathematics is a creative discipline. It can stimulate moments of happiness and wonder when a child solves a problem for the first time, discovers a more efficient solution to a problem or suddenly sees hidden connections.
Today, helping children to make the effort to learn, appreciate and master mathematics is more important than ever. Our increasingly technological world demands strong skills in mathematics, not only in the workforce but also in everyday life, and these demands will only increase over the life times of our children. Maths is a critical skill for many professions and opens a world of opportunity for children.

References

  • Livestrong : The Importance of Children Learning Mathematics
  • Hangleton : The Importance of Math
  • NCTM : What is Important in Early Childhood Mathematics?
  • NAEYC & NCTM: Early Childhood Mathematics: Promoting Good Beginnings