I read a recent article about the importance of early number talk with children and was pleased that this issue was being brought up. The article shares research on a few of the stark differences in how parents talk with their children about numbers. For example, parents tend to talk to their daughters about half as much about numbers as their sons. Parents also range in how much they use number words around their children from about a dozen times a week, to as much as 1800 times per week.
However, I felt that the list of suggestions the article had at the bottom was incomplete. The article's author essentially makes suggestions which I feel will only help children develop an instrumental understanding of mathematics, as opposed to a more useful, interesting, relational understanding.
Here are some more things my wife and I do with our children from a very young age to help them develop a deeper understanding of numbers.
The key to all of these activities is that we view numbers and quantities as ways of exploring, and we nurture our children's sense of wonder about the world.
David is a Formative Assessment Specialist for Mathematics at New Visions for Public Schools in NYC. He has been teaching since 2002, and has worked in Brooklyn, London, Bangkok, and Vancouver before moving back to the United States. He has his Masters degree in Educational Technology from UBC, and is the co-author of a mathematics textbook. He has been published in ISTE's Leading and Learning, Educational Technology Solutions, The Software Developers Journal, The Bangkok Post and Edutopia. He blogs with the Cooperative Catalyst, and is the Assessment group facilitator for Edutopia. He has also helped organize the first Edcamp in Canada, and TEDxKIDS@BC.