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If it's a good idea to work on reading and language from early childhood, I'd bet that it's a good idea to work on math and quantities too.

I have an 18 month old. I've pretty much been winging it with her math education.

Are there best practices for fostering math skills during early childhood?

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Yes. Most importantly, math in the early years should be play. My publisher has a lovely book titled Moebius Noodles that might give you more insight.

But I wouldn't recommend anything like a curriculum. You don't want it to ever be a chore. Just like we read to kids when they ask us to, and in a nightly bedtime ritual, so should our mathplay with them be determined by their interest.

You might also find some of the chapters in my book helpful. Playing with Math: Stories from Math Circle, Homeschoolers, and Passionate Teachers. (Much of this is for parents of older kids.)

There is so much to say on this, I'm trying to figure out what is useful and short enough for an answer here. (You can check out my lists of games and books at my blog.) Here's a quick list of how to help your child love math:

  1. Follow your child's lead.
  2. Be comfortable with math yourself.
  3. Have a good stash of mathy toys: building blocks (Keva/Kapla/Citi blocks are good), games (Blokus and Katamino are good for slightly older kids), and card games (Set and Blink are good for older kids).
  4. Also read fun mathy stories (The Cat in Numberland, Opposites, so many more).
  5. Notice math connections as you go through your day (cooking, things that come in 3s or 4s or 5s, ...).
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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks Sue. I'll check out your book. Also, to clarify, by 'curriculum', I just meant 'education best practices for various ages' $\endgroup$
    – Hal
    May 29 at 12:30
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    $\begingroup$ By the way, what would you recommend for an 18 month old? For context: she can recognize 1 and 2 of something (points to a pair of things and exclaims 'two'!, will out up to two when removing objects from, or placing them in, a container: 'one, two'.). Any YouTube shows for Toddlers you'd recommend? (E.g. something like Ms.Rachel's Songs for Littles - but more about math than speech). Thank you! $\endgroup$
    – Hal
    May 29 at 12:57
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    $\begingroup$ I don't recommend anything on video at that age! (You can read about how vision is harmed by time in front of screens.) The Moebius Noodles suggests activities for that age, which is why I mentioned it first. (And you can pay nothing for a pdf of it, if you prefer.) Have fun! $\endgroup$
    – Sue VanHattum
    May 29 at 16:18
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    $\begingroup$ I'm not keen on video either. We use it as a way to get her to stay still while detangling her hair. It's shoulder length and curly; it takes some time. $\endgroup$
    – Hal
    May 30 at 12:45
  • $\begingroup$ Upvoted for building blocks. Big plastic stackable cubes with bright colours and pretty pictures. Gives them an early internal insight into prime numbers and multiplication, which, when they encounter them formally in grade school, they will "recognise" from their own playing with piles of blocks and the knowledge that not all numbers of blocks can be stacked into a number of equal piles. $\endgroup$ Jun 10 at 9:04

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