Mathematical Conceptualization for Babies

Today is “Bring Your Child To Work Day” and it might be a little different than you envisioned this day to be. Yes, you are bringing your child to work today, but your work life is now taking place in your home. And besides your professional work load, you now most likely have other work responsibilities related to your home and caring for your baby.

The silver lining in this work overload moment is that these chores are the perfect introduction to the world of mathematics for your baby. You might be thinking- what does math have to do with cleaning the house and I have a baby what can a baby do? Well, children actually develop math skills and concepts very early in life. From the moment they are born, babies begin to gain an understanding about math. This occurs by just being part of the action and hearing the basic math language that you use everyday without even realizing it. Here are some ways you can provide your child with the start of a mathematical foundation as you engage in your everyday non professional tasks that you do throughout the day:

  • Sorting skills: As you sort your laundry talk about the two piles of laundry you are making. Using self -talk you can say” We need to sort the laundry into dark clothes and light colored clothes. Here is the dark pile and here is the light pile. What pile should I put this in?” This sorting discussion will provide your child with the start of understanding logic and problem solving- the foundation of mathematical reasoning.

  • Transitioning: When it is time to move your baby away from one activity to another, by saying to your child, “ in five minutes, I am going to vacuum the rug or have your food ready, the concept of time is being introduced.

  • Number Sense: There are so many opportunities throughout the day where providing your child with knowledge about quantity can be incorporated. Including: during diapering routines as talk talk about how many eye they have, nose, toes etc, as you dress your baby pointing out using ordinal counting: “first we are going to put one leg into your pants, second we are going to etc, setting the table by counting out loud how many place settings you need for dinner, counting out loud how many toys of a certain type are in the toy box, cleaning up “ I need to pick up these two blocks- one block two blocks, etc.

  • Measurement: While cooking read the recipe out loud so your baby can hear fractional measurement words, during feeding time use words such as more or less to help your child distinguish what these words mean by saying” I see you have more to drink” or “ For breakfast you ate less then you are eating for lunch. You must be hungry because you are eating more”

  • Estimation: As your child is playing, help estimate how many by saying “ I wonder how many toys will fit in this bin. I think ( say how many toys). Let’s count and see”

  • Patterning: Patterning is the basis of all mathematics. It develops the logical thinking needed for later high order math work. Musical experiences provide the beginning of this understanding as babies use their bodies to internalize the understanding of sequence and patterning as they move to the music.