New Math: Can you count?

Kids in England and Wales are learning a new set of maths skills by the age of six, with a new study showing that the average age at which children begin to understand the concept of “counting” is five years old.

Researchers at University College London said the study, which compared maths skills between eight-year-olds and their 10-year age peers, showed that the number of maths problems in the preschool curriculum was about five years ahead of the average UK population.

“This study highlights the importance of children learning to count, especially when we consider that the majority of young people are learning maths in the first year of life,” Professor Stephen Bannister, lead author of the study from the School of Mathematics and Statistics, said in a statement.

“The more children are taught to count in maths, the more they will be able to do so in later life.”

The study examined the number and type of maths tasks children were able to complete in a given week, and the results showed that when it came to counting, children in the age group five years and under were about seven years ahead.

“For example, a child can do five tasks in a day and five tasks at the same time,” Professor Bannisters said.

“These are the basic steps in the counting process, but we have shown that they are possible for young children, and that this is a good thing for their development.”‘

Counting is important for brain development’Professor Banniers study also found that young children were the most likely to have maths problems, with around 30 per cent of 10-to-12-year olds having problems.

“We are really hoping that we can use this to promote the teaching of maths to children, because we know that maths is very important for the brain development,” he said.

“We also know that it is important that children can learn to count and that it makes a huge difference to their overall well-being.”

The findings were published in the journal Science. 

The study was carried out by the UCL Institute of Mathematical Education, with the help of the National Institute for Mathematical and Mathematical Sciences.