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Study: Parents Should Talk to Toddlers About Numbers

New research suggests that children get a leg up in math if their parents talk to them routinely about numbers as toddlers, my colleague Sarah D. Sparks reports over at Inside School Research.

As Sarah explains, the longitudinal study indicates that there are big differences in the amounts of number-related words parents use in regular conversation with their children, and that this can have a big effect on a child's numeracy skills, even before formal number instruction in preschool.

Susan C. Levine, a psychologist at the University of Chicago, and a team of researchers found that children whose parents talked with them frequently about numbers as toddlers were better able to understand the cardinal number principle, the notion that a given number, say six, represents a set of six items, Sarah writes. According to researchers, children learn the abstract meaning of a given number separately from simply learning to count to that number.

The study, "What Counts in the Development of Young Children's Number Knowledge?," was published in the latest issue of the journal Developmental Psychology.

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