Signs of Learning Problems in Young Children
When should parents, teachers, and other caregivers be concerned about the development of young children in areas related to later mathematics learning? The early childhood literature has rarely addressed developmental delays and learning problems in mathematics to the extent needed by today’s preschool educators. The message has been that young children develop at different rates and that is natural. But with the explosion of young children born drug-exposed and in poverty in the 1990s and 2000s and their significant learning and behavioral needs, early childhood educators must address these needs and provide early interventions. Even special education research with young children has not made strong connections with later mathematics learning difficulties for children younger than six or seven.
With the caveat that young children develop at individual rates but with the reality of early experiences in cognitive development being most effective, early childhood educators should be concerned when observing these characteristics in three- and four-year-olds:
- Language: problems with naming objects, following simple directions, rhyming, recalling number words 0 to 10, or using language to express needs or thoughts.
- Social/emotional: not making choices, following simple rules, engaging in play with other children, or sticking with a task or activity; easily frustrated or angry; overly egocentric as compared with peers.
- Sensory/motor: avoids hands-on tasks; clumsy and immature large motor skills as compared with peers; excessively disorganized; over- or under-reacts to environmental stimuli; awkward pencil, crayon, or scissors grip for age.
- Cognitive: Cannot count objects to 4 or 5, cannot name colors and simple shapes, does not recall simple words or directions, cannot sort objects by one attribute, cannot make simple comparisons, cannot offer a simple reason for an action.
© ______ 2007, Merrill, an imprint of Pearson Education Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The reproduction, duplication, or distribution of this material by any means including but not limited to email and blogs is strictly prohibited without the explicit permission of the publisher.
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