COUNTING
RESEARCH FINDING:
A good way to teach children simple arithmetic is to build on
their informal knowledge. This is why learning to count everyday
objects is an effective basis for early arithmetic lessons.
COMMENT:
Young children are comfortable with numbers; "math anxiety" comes
in later years. Just watching the enjoyment children get from
songs and nursery rhymes that involve counting is ample evidence
of their natural ease. These early counting activities can set
the stage for later, more formal exposure to arithmetic.
But counting is not limited to merely reciting strings of num-
bers. It also includes matching numbers to objects and reaching
totals (for example, counting the number of apples sitting on the
table). Children learn to do arithmetic by first mastering
different counting strategies, beginning with rote counting
(1,2,3,4), and progressing to memorized computations (2x2=4). As
children learn the facts of arithmetic, they also learn to com-
bine those facts by using more sophisticated strategies. As
their skills grow, they rely less and less on counting.
When teachers begin by using children's informal knowledge, then
proceed to more complex operations, children learn more readily
and enjoy it.
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