Can You Teach A Baby Math? The Answer Might Surprise You… | Kidadl


Can You Teach A Baby Math? The Answer Might Surprise You…

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If you're the kind of person who identifies with the statement 'Oh, I was always terrible at math... I don't even know what 7 x 6 is!' then perhaps you'll assume that your baby will tread the same path. After all, what could you possibly have to teach them about algebra or equations? Yet studies show that being good at math is not genetic - it is an essential life skill that can be learned and improved with practice and so there's no reason why your baby can't learn it, argues author (and math whizz) Emma L Smith.

Surrey-based Emma, who is a chartered accountant by trade, has written the book ‘100 Ways in 100 Days to Teach Your Baby Maths’ to help parents introduce numerical concepts to their children from birth in a natural way and ultimately avoid falling into the fixed-mindset trap of thinking they're 'no good at math'. Kidadlers can get 30% off the book at Troubador using the code kidadl30, or on Kindle via Amazon for 99p.

As a writer, mum of two, double academic prize winner and Fellow of The Institute of Actuaries, Emma’s expert perspective is the perfect foundation for this topic. But is it actually possible to teach math to your baby? It sounds like a tall order - after all, at 100 days, your child will only be just over three months old and not even sitting up, let alone able to study numerical concepts. But Emma's book demonstrates clear and easy ways of incorporating math into everyday interactions with your baby from birth and beyond, to help foster positive associations and instil a sense of confidence in your child from an early age.

Babies have an inherent ability to understand mathematical concepts.

So, How Do I Introduce My Baby To Math?

The key to giving your child a solid foundation in math is what Emma refers to as 'number talk'. Simply translated, this means using as many number words as you can, whether it's counting things or singing a song about counting. You don't need to have an encyclopedic knowledge of math to do this - just by giving your baby your undivided attention and talking about what you are doing and about the things around you, you are naturally referring to mathematical concepts without realizing it. For example, you might read your baby a book and say, 'Look, on this page I can see one cow and two chickens!'. While your baby might coo back at you without actually understanding what you are saying, you are improving the quality of your interaction with your baby and introducing concepts that they will slowly start to understand. You are framing the idea of numerical concepts in a positive way and laying a strong foundation for your child's development. Plus, there's no need to spend money on flash cards or other resources. So, what sort of activities does Emma suggest new parents can do with their young baby or child to implement number talk in early childhood? Here are some of her top tips:


Read, Read, Read

You don't need Emma or anyone else to tell you that reading to your child is crucial for their early years development. Emma stresses the importance of forming a math habit - this could be as simple as reading your baby or young child a number book at bedtime, followed by singing a math song together (eg. '1, 2, 3, 4, 5, once I caught a fish alive!). Once it becomes a habit, daily routines like this will be easy to follow and something to look forward to, while also encouraging your child's reading, literacy and numerical skills.


Make Some Music

'Music can improve listening skills and concentration; it can help increase vocabulary and math skills,' says Emma. So why not grab a rattle or a tambourine and sing songs or just make some loud noise together with your baby! The book also has some great ideas for making your own instruments at home from scratch. Repetition is key to teaching things like counting at this stage, so if your baby seems to like a particular nursery rhyme, then keep singing it to them. Got no instrument to play? Fill a jar with rice and shake it to the beat of the song.

Bring 100 Ways in 100 Days out and about with you and learn on the go.

Have A Chat

OK, so this might be a little one-sided (!) but imitating your baby's babbling in a turn-taking 'conversation' can be highly valuable, says Emma. 'Some of your baby's first words, such as "up", "more" and "one" are key math vocabulary,' she says. So just by being engaged in talking with your little one and repeating what they might be trying to express could provide an opportunity to expose them to more math vocabulary. For example, 'would you like more milk? Here's some more milk.'


Play A Game

Kids love playing games, and another fun way to help teach your baby math is to play simple games such as peek-a-boo or the clapping game patty cake. Patty cake not only promotes turn taking, it also encourages babies and young children to notice and understand patterns and develop logical thinking. Emma has lots of great ideas for easy, inexpensive games to play with your baby at home. But is there any point playing a game with someone, in this case your baby, who can't really play the game? 'Each time you play a game like hide and seek, you are teaching your baby the order of numbers in a fun way,' says Emma. 'While the concept might be hard for your baby to grasp, it is still important to introduce it.' And if you have older children, this is the perfect way to include them in an activity with your baby.

Every human being is born with math potential, and there are so many simple things you can do to tap into your baby's intelligence and help them understand mathematics before they even get to school age. Emma's book contains some great activities that you can do with your child to contribute not only to their future math skills but also their social development, reasoning skills and problem solving abilities. And you never know, you might even learn what 7 x 6 is along the way.

‘100 Ways in 100 Days to Teach Your Baby Maths’, by Emma L Smith ACA FIA is available to buy from Troubador. Kidadlers can get 30% off using the code kidadl30.

It's also available on Amazon Kindle for 99p.

30% Off '100 Ways In 100 Days To Teach Your Baby Maths'

30% Off 100 Ways In 100 Days To Teach Your Baby Maths

Available at 30% off via Troubador, or on Amazon.

After spending 15 years working for some of the UK's top magazines and newspapers, Henri joined Kidadl in 2017 as a content manager and is now responsible for making sure all projects at Kidadl are delivered on time and provide parents with the very best tools and resources to educate and entertain their children. When she's not chasing copy, Henri can be found out and about exploring North London's green spaces with her two sons aged 6 and 9.

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