Can I teach my toddler math?

Education   |   Age: 2 years 7 months

Can I teach my toddler math?

Teaching is overrated - your baby is learning new things whether you teach them to her or not. And one of the important things she is learning right now is a basic foundation that her understanding of math will be built on. your baby may not be doing long division yet, but she is learning that if she has three crackers, then you eat one, she only has two left. And if she’s holding two cars, one in each hand, and then you hand her a third one, she’s going to need to figure out a new way to hold them all, because she’ll still have the first two she was holding to begin with.

These might seem more like logistical problems than math problems, but right now, your baby is doing the baseline work of learning about the world so that when she moves on to more abstract ideas - like numbers or books that don’t have pictures - she’ll have an understanding of the basics that she can then build off of.


Of course, when it’s time for your baby to use these concepts in the classroom, she is going to need to be able to turn those crackers into numbers in her mind, which means understanding the way that number symbols represent real-world amounts. Maybe your baby can already “count” - there are hundreds of counting songs, books, videos and apps designed with toddlers in mind, and toddlers are great at memorizing things - but there’s a good chance she hasn’t made the connection between the word five and the five wriggling little toes you’re trying to convince her will be comfier if she wears socks today.

You can help her start to make that connection by casually adding counting into your daily routine - counting the birds you’re pointing out to your baby on the roof or the stairs she’s climbing up. There’s no telling exactly when the connection between the counting and the objects you’re pointing out is really going to click, and there’s no reason to rush it either, but by counting, you’re helping to plant the seed for her - and when she does get it, there’s a good chance she’ll want to start counting everything, so brace yourself.

Pre-math activities and games

Pre-math concepts and ideas go far beyond counting, though. Activities that you and your baby can do to introduce pre-math ideas in a fun way include:

At your baby’s age, learning the ideas that will turn into an understanding of math is fun, exciting, and triumphant - and with a little luck, she’ll be able to hold onto that feeling as she grows up. 


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