Toddlers (12 - 33 months)
The more your toddler interacts with the world, the more he learns about it. His natural curiosity is helping him discover all kinds of relationships between objects and his own relationship to things around him. These discoveries help build his foundation for math concepts and math skills.
Watch a toddler at play and you will likely see a budding mathematician. He may line up his toy animals in a row, put “babies” next to their “daddies” or “mommies,” or see how many objects he can carry at once. He might experiment with getting things into and out of containers with small openings, or try to find a stick that is long enough to reach the ball that rolled under the couch. He might tell you that his new shoes are like your “big” ones, or give everyone a spoon and a napkin for breakfast.
The imaginative leaps your toddler is making, such as pretending a block can be a car, telephone, or cookie, shows his understanding of how one thing can stand in for another. Encouraging this kind of play and thinking will help your toddler figure out that he can let numbers stand in for groups of objects.
You can encourage your toddler’s developing math abilities by giving him a safe, supportive, and stimulating environment to explore and plenty of playful interaction. As you play together, support his problem solving with “math” words like three, longer, too big, next, smallest, between, square, giant, how much?, and enough.