Many studies show that finger awareness is an excellent predictor of math skills. For example, Fayol in 1998 showed that it predicted how well typical children would do math in First Grade. Children who learn to play piano or other musical instrument by six or seven have better math skills. It happens because the training seems to improve connections in the brain that do math. Long term studies of children who received musical training in kindergarten show that the improvement they gained in math skills (compared to a matched set of other kindergarten children who did not) was still present three years later. Brain imaging studies showed that children who received similar training caused permanent changes in those brain circuits. Other studies show that children with poor awareness of their fingers have poorer math abilities. These findings may be because children who lack finger awareness are less likely to count on their fingers. Even though a lot of teachers use to discourage it, counting on your fingers and using them for simple addition and subtraction are very helpful for gaining basic math skills.]]>

A common sign that a child may not have a good grasp of one to one correspondence is their consistently skipping a number (usually one in the teens) like sixteen each time he or she counts. Often a child is able to count items correctly up to ten or twelve but starts miscounting somewhere in the teens. There is an easy way to check on this. Line up ten or twelve items like blocks or macaroni pieces and have the child count them, touching each one as it is counted. Do NOT count with them. If that is done correctly, then add a few more pieces so that there are seventeen or eighteen items and ask your child to count them.

If there is a problem, then start working on counting things around the house a daily activity you do with your child. This helps them develop a sense in their minds of how numbers are related to each other. This is called the internal number line. It is usually helpful to start with amounts of items that are one or two numbers more or less than the amount your child can count accurately. Having a well developed internal number line is very important to learning beginning arithmetic. Building a solid foundation now will help your child succeed in the future!!

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