1 Little Boy from a developmental angle
The development of the concept of numbers with the child has a close link to the development of language, and broadly speaking – to the mental capacity to process sequences. As such, the development starts manifesting shortly after speech, when the child, in his second year, starts naming numbers, still without understanding their symbolic meaning.
This initial phase can last for a year or more, yet it is necessary for the internalization of the number sequence and the principles of counting and calculating that will follow.
In the second stage, the child begins to understand the concept of “One” and later of “Two”, around the same time as he recognizes his basic body parts (some singular and some pairs).
In the next stage, the ability to recite starts developing, as the infant internalizes the process of uniquely matching the series of numbers he knows (initially up to three or up to five) to a series of similar objects. Reciting proficiency doesn’t mean that the infant understands the link between the last recited number and the counted quantity. Children of three to four years of age can recite up to five, and to answer the question “how many building blocks are there?” they would recount again and again, and not just say “five”. Fully understanding this link (typically in ages 4-5), testifies to the healthy ripening of the quantitative understanding and readiness to continue learning calculus.
The activities which construct this iphone application, 1 Little Boy for toddlers allow the infant recurring exposure to diverse counting and reciting experiences, in which he is exposed to the principles of number sequences, in an appropriate level of difficulty. The child can flip back the pages and visually internalize the proportion of numbers in a sequence, long before these relations can be fully integrated into his conceptual framework. Generally speaking, the visual story allows for optimal environmental learning* of the foundations of the number realm, not to mention its incorporation of the numeric factor into a content that is diverse in its own right.
- Environmental learning – Learning from generalization of example cases in the child’s natural surroundings. This, as opposed to structured learning, which refers to quantitative concepts as mathematical, interrelated objects. In recent years, research in the field of mathematical teaching have proven time and again that the environmental approach is significantly better at nurturing the fundamental quantitative understanding and that it is more appropriate to implement in this case. The structured approach, conversely, might be more beneficial in more advanced stages.
Thalma ashi is a leading developmental psychologist, and a former consultant to the mathematical team of the Israel education ministry.
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