Why Early Numeracy Skills are Important

It is important to support the development of numeracy skills, as we do language and literacy skills, starting in early childhood. Achievement gaps in math and science appear before kindergarten. Early math skills are essential to children’s school readiness and later learning. Research tells us that early math skills are the best predictor of later success in school. In fact, preschoolers’ math skills predict both third grade reading and math scores. In contrast, preschoolers’ early reading skills only predict later reading scores. This is not to say that reading is not important – because it is! We want to highlight how important math skills are to children’s development across learning domains. For example, learning the names for shapes also develops language skills. Sorting sticks by size supports physical development. And making sure each stuffed animal has a teacup during pretend play supports social emotional development.

Math is integral to all learning. And children have a natural interest in it! Let’s look at some ways you can support learning numeracy skills during children’s daily activities and play.

• Cardinality
is the concept that, when counting objects, the last number represents the total number of objects in the set
Measurement
includes size, length, height, weight, volume, distance, and time
Number and operations
refers to a set of math concepts related to understanding and representing numbers and operations (e.g., addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division) and the relationships between them
Numeracy
is the ability to understand and reason with numbers
One-to-one correspondence
refers to matching one object to each number word when counting
Subitizing
refers to the ability to identify the number of objects in a small group of objects without counting them
Scaffolding
is offering the right level of support to help a child achieve more than they would be able to on their own