We’ve always encouraged children from an early age to have an affair with numbers. The best encouragement as always happens by live demonstration.
This is not talking about equations or computation for starters. That naturally follows. This is referring to the mind livening act of simply counting! Yes, just counting.
Numbers themselves are one of the universal languages… like music, color, pattern, movement… A rainbow is composed of seven colors no matter where you are in the world. Snowflakes are six-sided water crystals whether they fall on Mt. Kilimanjaro or Mt. Fuji. The four cardinal directions are universal orientation. There are 33 vertebrae in the human spine; 5 fingers on a hand; 2 hemispheres of the brain; 4 chambers in the heart… The number three represents triads, trinities, triumvirates, trilogies, triunes and triangles that have had great influence throughout human history. And the number one represents both the indivisible unit and the collective unity and wholeness for the Hopis, Hawaiians and Hottentots.
As to the significance of specific numbers… that is for another time. Numbers have much to teach us though. They represent and point to natural order and pattern. The first doorway to which begins with the beautiful act of counting!
Children love to count (and be counted!); right from an early age: How many fingers? How many toes? How many ears, how many nose? How many this? How many thats? How many shoes? How many hats?
A young child loves to count – partly for the act of counting things together with others (very important); but also for the fascination with the ‘answer’ to the question: How many? We’ve seen many wide eyed children jump with joy when we all arrive at the final number of whatever it is we happen to be counting. Numbers seem to have charisma!
When children learn to count in sequences of ones, twos, threes, fives and tens (from as early on as they are so inclined), it forms neuro-pathways and patterning that serves as a versatile platform for both spatial and logical reasoning. Yes, we are talking about firing up both brain hemispheres! This is exampled beautifully in the song Count On Us!
Now here’s where counting gets creative:
Make counting fun by adding movement and singing. Do simple movements at first developing to more complex coordination exercises. This combines counting with kinesthetic experience, auditory amplification (singing rhythmically) and the visual aspect of seeing each other moving and singing (along with graphic aids if you wish). Now you are tripling your learning power!
Mathematics in ‘western’ education models is predominantly left brain hemisphere oriented. This arts integrated methodology involves both brain hemispheres firing in alternation and simultaneously. It simply involves more of the brain and more of the person! The results are extraordinary.
We have witnessed children who have been ‘brought up’ with arts integrated NUMBER LEARNING develop into math prodigies able to express complex concepts with elegant simplicity. These are well-rounded learners interested in a wide array of subjects as well as being enthusiastic problem solvers.
Numbers are not hard things. People can make them hard or intimidating, but the nature of numbers is inviting, playful, multiple, engaging and fun!
Help to champion arts integrated education. Numbers can be vital pathways to natural education. Make numbers count!