“More, More, More,” Said the Baby:
How Language & Math Work Together in the Thinking of Infants & Toddlers
Infants are born with an instinctive awareness of very small quantities called subitizing. They aren’t saying any words, of course, especially 1,2,3. But counting is much more than reciting those words. It is a logical way of thinking that allows for increasing precision. In this session, we will be exploring the strong connections between language and cognitiver development in infants and toddlers that leads to true number sense. We will be looking at the trajectory that shows how the very generalized precursor concepts of infants develop into abstract understanding of “More” in young toddlers and leads to older toddlers understand that counting allows us to name “how many of what” –that is, to rationally count. We will be stressing how this development does not happen through drill or use of screen time. Rather, it depends on positive interactive communications between infants and toddlers and loving caregivers. In other words, the more very young children play and are engaged in math conversations, the more likely they are to enter preschool fully primed to count and take on other mathematical tasks. And, as research has made clear—the more they have strong early math experiences, the more likely it is that they will be successful in school.
Mary Hynes-Berry, PhD, is a senior content developer with Erikson’s Early Math Collaborative. A specialist in teacher education, literacy and mathematics, she also teaches in Erikson’s teacher certification master’s program. Once a math-phobic educator with a doctorate in English, she was converted to a math enthusiast when she directed a K-3 mathematics curriculum project for Encyclopedia Britannica. She shares that enthusiasm for developing young children’s mathematical understanding with project participants as she promotes and demonstrates effective ways to teach math. Hynes-Berry brings to her work more than 30 years’ experience using stories and storytelling as tools for learning. She has used that approach while working directly with young children, and taught both in-service and pre-service to use the techniques as well.
Rakhee Dodia, MS, is a coach and facilitator with the Early Math Collaborative. She graduated from Erikson Institute with an M.S. in Early Childhood Education, leading to licensure and specialization in ESL endorsement. Rakhee has 10 years of experience as a K-3 classroom teacher starting in New York Public Schools and then Chicago Public Schools. Currently, she is coaching Head Start teachers on foundational early math principles with Collaborative Math.