Study: Preschool kids have math skills

Sep 20, 2005

Harvard psychologists in Cambridge, Mass., say 5-year-olds are able to grasp numeric abstractions and arithmetic concepts even without formal education.

The discovery of such inborn skills among preschoolers could point the way to new teaching techniques, making arithmetic easier and more pleasant for elementary school children.

"Teaching symbolic arithmetic is one of the primary tasks of the first four years of elementary education," says co-author Elizabeth Spelke, a Harvard professor of psychology. "Some children have enormous trouble mastering this skill, and most children find symbolic arithmetic challenging and, at times, confusing.

"Our studies say, however, that children already have a basic understanding of this domain. I hope our work points the way to improving mathematics education by building on this understanding."

A paper describing the findings will be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and is now on the journal's Web site.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International

Explore further: Everglades trail surveyed for cultural artifacts

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Secrets of dinosaur ecology found in fragile amber

15 hours ago

Ryan McKellar's research sounds like it was plucked from Jurassic Park: he studies pieces of amber found buried with dinosaur skeletons. But rather than re-creating dinosaurs, McKellar uses the tiny pieces ...

User comments : 0