WEDNESDAY, Sept. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Some children are born
with natural math ability, while others aren't, a new study
Johns Hopkins University researchers tested the "number sense"
of 200 preschool children whose average age was 4.
The tests included having the kids look at groups of blue and
yellow dots flashed onto a computer screen and guess which group
had more dots.
Kids were also tested on their math abilities, such as counting
out loud and solving addition problems.
Children who were the best at the "numbers sense" tests also
tended to be better at the math skills tests. Because the kids had
not had yet formal math instruction, researchers concluded that
math ability in preschool children is strongly associated with
their inborn "number sense."
Number sense is basic to many animals. For example, creatures
that hunt and gather food use it to calculate where they can find
the most food. People use it daily to estimate such things as the
number of people in a meeting or the number of available seats in a
theater, the study authors explained.
Previous research already established a link between number
sense and math ability in adolescents.
"The relationship between 'number sense' and math ability is important and intriguing because we believe that 'number sense' is universal, whereas math ability has been thought to be highly dependent on culture and language and takes many years to learn," study leader Melissa Libertus, a post-doctoral fellow in the department of psychological and brain sciences, said in a university news release.
"Thus, a link between the two is surprising and raises many important questions and issues, including one of the most important ones, which is whether we can train a child's number sense with an eye to improving his future math ability."
The study was published online in a recent issue of the journal
The Ontario Ministry of Education outlines how
parents can help their children learn math.