Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Kids grasp large numbers remarkably young

Date:
December 18, 2013
Source:
Michigan State University
Summary:
Children as young as 3 understand multi-digit numbers more than previously believed and may be ready for more direct math instruction when they enter school, according to new research.

Children as young as 3 understand multi-digit numbers more than previously believed and may be ready for more direct math instruction when they enter school.
Credit: Gorilla / Fotolia

Children as young as 3 understand multi-digit numbers more than previously believed and may be ready for more direct math instruction when they enter school, according to research led by a Michigan State University education scholar.

The study, online in the journal Child Development and funded by the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences, has implications for U.S. students who continue losing ground internationally in mathematics performance.

"Contrary to the view that young children do not understand place value and multi-digit numbers, we found that they actually know quite a lot about it," said Kelly Mix, MSU professor of educational psychology and co-author of the study. "They are more ready than we think when they enter kindergarten."

Understanding place value is the gateway to higher math skills such as addition with carrying, and there is a strong tie between place value skills in early elementary grades and problem-solving ability later on.

"In short, children who fail to master place value face chronic low achievement in mathematics," the study states.

In several experiments, Mix and Richard Prather and Linda Smith, both from Indiana University, tested children ages 3 to 7 on their ability to identify and compare two- and three-digit numbers.

In one task, for example, children were shown two quantities (such as 128 and 812) and asked to point out which was larger. "There was significant improvement in interpreting place value from age 3 to 7," Mix said, "but it was remarkable that even the youngest children showed at least some understanding of multi-digit numbers."

Mix said the surprising findings are likely due to the fact that children in today's society are bombarded with multi-digit numbers -- from phone numbers to street addresses to price tags.

Interestingly, children may be developing partial knowledge of the place value system at least partly from language, she explained. Children often hear multi-digit numbers named while also seeing them in print, such as when parents comment on a calendar, ask their child to push the elevator buttons or look for a room number in an office building.

Previous research and teacher observations indicate children do not understand the symbols for place value -- and, thus, multi-digit numbers -- until well into elementary school. Typically, young students receive specialized conceptual instruction on place value, such as with place value blocks.

The researchers trained children on place value blocks and found no improvement. However, training with written symbols alone did yield significant benefits. Because of this, and the study's finding that students already recognize multi-digit numbers to some degree, Mix said more direct instruction with place value and multi-digit numbers should be considered in the early grades.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Michigan State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Kelly S. Mix, Richard W. Prather, Linda B. Smith, Jerri DaSha Stockton. Young Children's Interpretation of Multidigit Number Names: From Emerging Competence to Mastery. Child Development, 2013; DOI: 10.1111/cdev.12197

Cite This Page:

Michigan State University. "Kids grasp large numbers remarkably young." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 December 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131218112914.htm>.
Michigan State University. (2013, December 18). Kids grasp large numbers remarkably young. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131218112914.htm
Michigan State University. "Kids grasp large numbers remarkably young." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131218112914.htm (accessed April 21, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Monday, April 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Study On Artists' Brain Shows They're 'Structurally Unique'

Study On Artists' Brain Shows They're 'Structurally Unique'

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) The brains of artists aren't really left-brain or right-brain, but rather have extra neural matter in visual and motor control areas. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) A recent study links apathetic feelings to a smaller brain. Researchers say the results indicate a need for apathy screening for at-risk seniors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

AP (Apr. 16, 2014) Pushing the limits on style and self-expression is a rite of passage for teens and even younger kids. How far should schools go with their dress codes? The courts have sided with schools in an era when school safety is paramount. (April 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins