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Does Your Two Year Old Know the Quantity 3?

In case you are wondering, I’d offer a hesitant yes to this question regarding Jenna(29 months). She correctly identifies quantities of three about 80% of the time. There is no way she is ready to move on to four yet, despite her ability to “count”, i.e. rattle off numbers without correspondence. I got a pretty accurate understanding of where my daughter’s thinking currently resides, by trying out lesson 1 from Right Start Level A. You can download the first few lesson plans yourself for free and give it a try with your own two year old.

I wish I had known to try this experiment with Bruce (6.5) when he was two, because of course I’m now uber-curious what his thinking was back then. When did the quantities three and four really solidify for Bruce? When will they solidify for Jenna? The Psychology major in me is going to be periodically checking to figure this out. Looking forward in lessons 2 and 3 of Right Start Level A, the other two abilities to monitor are A-B-A patterns, and sorting.

The reason why I decided to investigate all of this to begin with, was that I have just finished reading Keith Devlin’s wonderful book The Math Instinct: Why You’re a Mathematical Genius (Along with Lobsters, Birds, Cats, and Dogs). This book was well written, meticulously researched, and thought provoking. The final chapters reaffirmed everything I learned about Constructivist math in my professional development as a teacher. The research he presented about young infants understanding the quantity of two was especially fascinating. I had previously been proud of Jenna understanding the quantity two. Now I realize that’s no big deal!

I’m going to continue on reading more of Keith Devlin’s books. I’m not a “mathy” person myself, but he writes in a way that is easy to understand… even for someone who hasn’t studied Calculus since 12th grade.  🙂


2 Comments

  1. I didn’t start Level A until age 4 with either of my kids and with some lessons it seemed that they were still too young! I think with Rightstart you can start early and go really SLOW or start at closer to age 5 and cook right along. I’m approaching the first lesson that involves writing in Level A with my 4 year old and I’m curious to see how that pans out. He’s not much of a writer or drawer. 🙂

    • jenbrdsly says:

      Thanks for the advice. My confusion lies in what happened with Bruce(6). At four he was ready for first grade Horizons and then at five he did 2nd grade Houghton Mifflin and Right Start Level C. In retrospect, I wish I had done Right Start Level B with him instead of Horizons, but I didn’t know enough back then! This also means that I have no idea when Bruce would have been ready for Right Start Level A. I also don’t know if Jenna will be on the same math path or not. So basically, I’m totally confused but trying to figure this out systematically. 🙂

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