National Research Council urges math in preschool - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

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National Research Council urges math in preschool

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WASHINGTON. - How young is too young to learn math?

A new report says even in the first year of life, babies are grasping basic concepts and preschools need to build on that so kids aren't left behind when they hit kindergarten.

The National Research Council, a well-respected group of academics based in Washington, says we've spent a lot of time teaching preschoolers their ABC's, but not nearly enough teaching the 1-2-3's.

"The longer you wait, the more chances you're gonna have that they're gonna fall through the cracks," said teacher Michael Helling.

The National Research Council finds kids ages 3 to 6 are already learning numbers and geometry through everyday experiences.

"When we're going outside we're lining up and then we're all gonna count. Count how many friends we have," teacher Anuschka Boekhoudt said.

"They're learning addition and subtraction but they don't really realize it you know. It's just, it's fun for them," Helling said.

Kids are ready to learn the report says. It's preschool teachers who need more math training.

"If they're not comfortable, if they're not at least somewhat of a master of the subject, they can't begin to teach it to young children," said Christopher cross of the National Research Council.

The report finds many early education programs don't include math at all and it's even worse for low-income children who often hit kindergarten behind and never catch up.

"If you start at a very young age, they don't get that fear like: 'oh, math! You know, I'm not good at math," Boekhoudt said.

"It needn't be scary. We aren't talking about having to have quadratic equations done by 4 and 5 year olds," said Cross.

The research council also suggests companies that publish educational workbooks and texts beef up their curriculums to make preschool math more fun and creative.

The council argues math is a foundation for many other subjects like science, art and music and teaching it very early could lead to a stronger adult workforce.
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