The Schools Don’t Expect Your Kindergartener to Count to 10 – Should You?

I just came across an interesting study on Science Daily.  The article is entitled, " Most Math Being Taught in Kindergarten Is Old News to Students."  According to the article, "This study is one of the first to raise the question: Is the content that teachers report teaching in kindergarten meeting the needs of the majority of their students?" Mimi Engel, assistant professor of public policy and education at Vanderbilt's Peabody College and lead author of the study, said.

"We looked at the data [from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Cohort or ECLS-K], immersed ourselves in the literature, and we saw that it's been well-documented that the vast majority of kids can count once they start kindergarten," she continued. "About 95 percent of kids have mastered basic number skills -- the numbers one through 10 -- both the language of counting and one-to-one correspondence. We also noticed that teachers spend a lot of time on these basic skills."

Engel and her collaborators reported their findings in November online in Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis.

The study showed that the vast majority of students had mastered basic counting and shapes by the fall of kindergarten. In contrast, very few had mastered simple addition and subtraction."

This is a really interesting article for many reasons.  First, it shows that the school system does not expect kids to come to kindergarten knowing how to count and understand shapes, yet most kids do have those skills.  Second, it tells us that by kindergarten, the education system believes that counting to 10 is a milestone.  Third, it points out some of the additional things we need to be working on with our little ones.  Kids are sponges, especially little kids.  If we expect them to be able to learn addition and subtraction, and then help them do it, they will.   If we expect that they can only count to 10, then they will.

Key Take Aways for Parents:

  • Start working on counting up to 100 with your infants and toddlers.  Count by fives.  Count by tens.  This shouldn't be boring counting.  Use books, count down with the microwave timer, count stones in the park, count books on the shelf, count pieces of candy and let him eat them.  Count backwards.  Start when your baby is tiny.  Start when your baby is 2, or 3.  Just start.  A two year old can count to ten.   Easily.  Even younger kids can do it.
  • Begin working on addition and subtraction with little kids.  Again, make it fun.  Put five apples out and take 3 away.  Ask how many are left.  Cut a cookie in half and ask how many pieces are there.  Let them eat one piece and ask how many are left.  You get the idea.  It doesn't take much time.  The key is remembering to do it during normal daily interactions with your child.  (It's the same with the Daily 10 for your baby.)
  • Expect your kids to be able to do a lot.  They will not disappoint you.

America's academic rank is dropping in the world.  When we set low standards for our kids, they achieve them.  When we set high standards, they achieve them too.  It doesn't require you to be a "Tiger" mom or dad.  It doesn't require flash cards or demanding rote learning.  It just requires a little time, thought and creativity from Mom and Dad to give their little bundle of joy brain advantages that last a lifetime.   Innovate your baby!



Leave a Reply