Every four years the National Center for Education Statistics conducts the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), which compares US fourth and eighth graders to students in other countries. In the 2003 TIMSS study, US fourth graders scored above average on the math test but were 12th overall out of 25, placing behind countries such as Japan, England, and the Russian Federation. American eighth graders also scored above average yet placed 10th of 35 countries participating and were behind such countries as Hungary, Korea, and the Netherlands.
How can we improve these statistics and get our kids to improve their math skills? Start early! Children as young as seven months may already be developing abstract mathematical concepts—much earlier than once thought, according to a recent Duke University study by Kerry Jordan and Elizabeth Brannon published in the February 2006 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Wondering how you can help? Take a look at the following list of concepts and activities that are sure to make learning math fun for your toddler—before he even starts school.