Recent research shows that young children, even before they enter school, develop a surprisingly sophisticated "informal knowledge" of mathematics.1 This informal knowledge is composed of particular concepts and skills, some of which are described in this communication. If a child is severely deficient in such informal knowledge, he or she may be at a disadvantage in dealing with mathematics taught in school. Consequently, it is useful for the pediatrician to identify intellectual deficiencies of this type, just as attempts are made to identify severe language disorders or gross mental retardation.
What are informal skills and how do they develop? Many informal mathematical skills are basic to everyday functioning. For example, a physician glances at two bacterial cultures and perceives immediately, without counting or using written numbers or symbolism, that one culture has more growth spots than the other. The physician then carefully checks his conclusion. As he
BAROODY AJ, GINSBURG HP. Preschoolers' Informal Mathematical SkillsResearch and Diagnosis. Am J Dis Child. 1982;136(3):195–197. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1982.03970390009001
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