Washington: Researchers at the University of Chicago have indicated that preschool children seem to grasp the true concept of counting only if they are taught to understand the number value of groups of objects greater than three.
"We think that seeing that there are three objects doesn’t have to involve counting. It’s only when children go beyond three that counting is necessary to determine how many objects there are," said Elizabeth Gunderson, an UChicago graduate student in psychology.
Gunderson and Susan Levine, the Stella M. Rowley Professor in Psychology, Comparative Human Development and the Committee on Education at the University, studied how children develop an understanding of the connection between number words and their actual numerical value. That connection is known as the cardinal principle, which states that the size of a set of objects is determined by the last number reached when counting the set.
Levine`s work has shown that exposure to language related to numbers improves mathematics comprehension; the latest paper goes a step further. It shows that children who are exposed to number words from four through 10, in addition to the number words from one through three, acquire an understanding of the cardinal principle before children who have little exposure to these higher number words.
To perform the study, team members made five home visits and videotaped interactions between 44 youngsters and their parents.
"The results have important policy implications, showing that specific aspects of parents` engagement in numerically relevant behaviours in the home seem to have an impact on children`s early mathematical development," said the authors.