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Three Year Olds Can Do Math

In the above picture you see my daughter Jenna learning the greater than/less than symbol, at age two.  She thought she was playing “Hungry Guy”, but really she was learning a first and second grade skill.

I believe that children as young as two and three can do real math.   The trick is to teach them mathematical concepts in a way that makes sense to them. 

Play-based math will get results!

(Click here for some free activities to try.)

Jenna is three and a half now, and I felt like she was ready for something more formal.  So three weeks ago, we begin using Right Start Mathematics Level A I have no affiliation whatsoever with Right Start.  I’m just a die-hard Joan Cotter fan.

We are on lesson 7 now, and I am thrilled.  All of the activities are easy to set up, play-based, and conceptually very deep.

Jenna does between 5 -10 minutes of math every day, but only if she wants to.

Here is a sample of what we have done so far:

We made triangles and quadrilaterals out of craft sticks.

We learned about comparison words like long and longest.

We did ordering work of longest to shortest. (This is the before picture.)

We began to explore the abacus.

This is exciting.  This is fun.  This is easy.

The teacher in me wishes every child in America was benefiting from Dr. Joan Cotter’s wisdom.  The mom in me wishes I had know about Right Start when Bruce was this age!

The AL Abacus


AL Abacus front

AL Abacus, reverse side

In a previous post I talked about the Right Start Level C math program Bruce has been using, and its core component, the AL abacus.  I explained about how even though I think the abacus is totally amazing, Bruce hasn’t been too keen on it yet, which made following the specific lesson plans in the Level C teacher guide difficult.  He still benefited a lot from the other parts of the program however.

For those of you unfamiliar with the abacus, here’s a cool and (free) link that let’s you explore it online: http://www.alabacus.com/pageView.cfm?pageID=321

Here are also some pictures of two ways to represent 57.


Pretty cool, hunh?  Hopefully Jenna will be much more interested in using it when she is ready.