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Better talk numbers, not bedtime stories

The amount of time parents spend talking numbers with their pre-school children has a direct bearing on their ability to learn mathematics, says a new study by researchers at the University of Chicago.

world Updated: Nov 10, 2010 23:45 IST
Yashwant Raj

The amount of time parents spend talking numbers with their pre-school children has a direct bearing on their ability to learn mathematics, says a new study by researchers at the University of Chicago.

“By the time children enter preschool, there are differences in their mathematical knowledge, as shown by their performance on standardised tests,” said the leader of the study, psychologist Susan Levine.

But how do you measure a pre-school child’s proficiency with numbers? The researchers used something called the cardinal number principle, according to which a set of objects is determined by the last number reached when counting the set — a set of 10 items, is bigger than seven. A child’s ability to tell the difference, was taken as sufficient proof of how easily he or she will learn mathematics. The researchers videotaped interactions between youngsters 14-30 months old and their parents to count use of numbers by parents.

Those children who heard a lot of number talk were more likely to respond correctly at the test.

So, don’t bore your child with baby talk. Talk numbers.