Mathematics is one of those subjects that seems to take a toll on early learners. For many, it’s repetitive, boring and only good for knowing when the jerk next to you has more cookies. And while kids may be cursing the person who invented it (damn you, Mesopotamians), it turns out that an understanding of mathematical concepts might be hardwired into human brains.
Research has found that your baby knows the amount of things, as well as how to add and subtract, before they’re even a year old. Which is great to know, but how turn them into more than a jealous cookie counter?
Research For The Wynn
The core of that baby research comes from Yale psychology professor Karen Wynn. Along with fellow neuroscientist Koleen McCrink, Wynn put together an experiment in 2005 to find out if babies had a sense of addition and subtraction.
Wynn showed 9-month-old babies an animation where 2 sets of 5 rectangles disappeared behind a screen. Wynn then removed the screen revealing either 10 rectangles, the correct result, or 5 rectangles, the unexpected result. They found that the babies stared much longer at the unexpected outcome. In other words, they were surprised by what they were seeing. “WTF? GTFO, with that 5 rectangle nonsense,” their little baby expressions presumably said.
Interestingly, the outcome was similar for a subtraction animation as well.
On The Ratio
It’s also been found that babies as young as 3 months can detect changes in quantities of objects. And it appears their comprehension of numbers increases from there. At 6 months, babies can distinguish in ratios of 2:1, and by 10 months that improves to 3:2. What’s more, it turns out that babies that have a better sense of this at 6 months are more likely to have better foundational number skills at age 3.
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