Children’s Play and Early Number Knowledge
Recent research at U. C. Berkeley’s Institute of Human Development (IHD) suggests that children’s early number knowledge comes about because as children play with objects, they spontaneously set up correspondences between sets and they track what happens as set sizes change. They seem to understand correspondence and simple arithmetic quite well when they actually play with objects. However, they find it quite difficult to look at object sets and try to judge whether sets are of the same size or not.
When children solved number problems in the active method, they succeeded up to three times more frequently than they did when they solved the same problems in the passive method. In the active method tasks, their responses to the correspondence problems were nearly perfect, whereas in the passive method correspondences the children responded correctly only about half of the time. When children solved addition and subtraction problems, they were similarly more successful in the active method than in the passive method.
One explanation for these differences is that the active method more closely mimics the sort of “number play” that young children do when they sort objects, when they set up tea parties, when they arrange for each of their friends to have a toy, and so on. These are examples of naturally occurring correspondences. And importantly, these all involve the children’s actions upon the objects.
It is also interesting to note that these early number abilities do not associate directly with children’s ability to count sets of objects. The children in these studies were younger than three years. They sometimes knew some number words, and perhaps could recite the counting sequence up to five or so, but they were not particularly good at saying how many objects were in front of them. And yet they could solve problems that look remarkably like object based arithmetic when they could act upon the set materials.
- Coats and Car Seats: A Lethal Combination?
- Kindergarten Sight Words List
- Child Development Theories
- Signs Your Child Might Have Asperger's Syndrome
- 10 Fun Activities for Children with Autism
- Why is Play Important? Social and Emotional Development, Physical Development, Creative Development
- The Homework Debate
- Social Cognitive Theory
- First Grade Sight Words List
- GED Math Practice Test 1