Spotlight on Math Young Explorers - DuPage Children's Museum

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Spotlight on Math Young Explorers

August 4, 2016

The past few weeks we have been focusing on our earliest learners, as we are passionate about supporting and understanding that learning begins at birth. Because early learning in particular is influenced by the child’s environment as well as the interactions they have with others within those environments, we pay close attention to organizing the Young Explorers areas in the Museum in ways that promote brain development and provide experiences that help even the youngest infants begin to understand themselves as “agents of change.” As with all Young Explorers areas here at DCM, Math Young Explorers is intentionally designed, keeping in mind the fact that research shows that children with high self-esteem, who feel loved and supported, are more willing to try new things even if it means failing a lot as they go, persisting, and not becoming overcome with frustration, because they know they will be safe. This area offers young children the opportunity to explore mathematical concepts such as sorting, patterning, and matching without numbers. There are blocks, beads, balls, and shapes similar to those in the Math Connections neighborhood.
Some things to keep in mind regarding playing with infants and toddlers – it’s all about the interaction!

Quality interaction with young children strongly influences brain development. Do not underestimate the power of observing your child and then saying what you see. It sounds so simple but engaging in dialogue (even with pre-verbal children)

about what they are doing or seeing has the power to turn an everyday simple act or thing into something extraordinary. Therefore, whether you are visiting the Museum or spending time at home with your child, make sure to:

  • Give your child lots of attention and positive reinforcement. This will help the child feel more confident, relaxed, happy, and ready to learn.
  • Provide consistent responses. In doing so, you communicate to your children that the world around them is trustworthy, and that they can depend on you. Especially pay attention to any signs of overstimulation (tuning out or frustration).
  • Have fun! Jump right in with playful actions or expressions (tickles, smiles, songs) and provide simple, novel objects or environments to explore.
  • Talk to your child. Listening to your voice not only is comforting, but also helps your child learn about sounds and language.
  • Introduce your child to peers. Toddlers are naturally curious and seek out opportunities to learn more about the world around them. Provide opportunities to let your child observe and interact with adults, and children. Slightly older children can demonstrate new ways to use or interact with materials.

Math is Everywhere!
Children develop math concepts and skills very early in life. From the moment they are born, babies begin to form ideas about math through
everyday experiences and, most important, through interactions with trusted adults. I cannot stress this next point enough; if you want to support the development of foundational math skills, the most important thing you can do is talk, talk, talk! How we talk with infants and toddlers about math ideas like more, empty, and full—matters! Math talk enriches everyday learning experiences for infants and toddlers. You’ll be surprised at how much they know and can learn. Your math talk today can help your children be successful in math as they get older.