New research has prompted preschools in Nashville, Boston, and Washington to create new games, activities, and curriculum to improve mathematic reasoning in young children and to increase kindergarten readiness. Recent studies indicate that even infants can differentiate amounts and quantities. Moreover, by 18 months, children can distinguish between shapes. By preschool, children are able to connect numbers and shapes with corresponding concepts and labels like five and triangle. Aside from basic counting exercises, the majority of early education centers spend little time attempting to teach mathematics to toddlers.
Counting activities have been developed to simultaneously incorporate the three concepts of quantity (e.g.: five apples), the corresponding word (five), and the numerical representation (5). Even traditional games like Chutes and Ladders enhance children’s mathematical ability by teaching the relationship between numbers and quantity. For low-income preschoolers, this head start in math comprehension makes a considerable difference. After one year in a math centered preschool environment, 4 year olds in Nashville and Boston were tested on addition, subtraction, and number recognition and placed in the 76th percentile. Children who did not receive the intervention placed in the 50th percentile. Even after their first year of kindergarten, young children who participated in the program maintained their mathematical advantage by placing in the 71st percentile