Mathematical Intelligence in Children

November 17, 2019
Mathematical intelligence involves a series of basic skills that allow us to get by in everyday life. Below, we'll explain more about mathematical intelligence in children.

Learning and training in mathematical intelligence are a fundamental part of children’s cognitive development. In fact, mathematical competence is what human beings need in order to describe and analyze the following:

  • Quantities
  • Space
  • Shapes
  • Changes
  • Relationships
  • Uncertainty and randomness.

As you can see, mathematical intelligence is present in every single aspect of a person’s life. Therefore, from a young age, it’s important that children learn to appreciate and comprehend math.

“It is in mathematics where the spirit finds the elements that it most desires: Continuity and perseverance.”

– Jacques Anatole France –

Mathematical intelligence in children

  • Analyzing situations in a logical manner
  • Solving mathematical problems
  • Using and representing systems of numerical quantification
  • Taking on challenges based on discovery
Mathematical Intelligence in Children

In order to acquire these abilities, it’s crucial that children feel comfortable with numbers and tasks related to their use. At the same time, children must learn to understand the information that’s presented in mathematical terms.

So, according to María del Carmen Chamorro, the dimensions of mathematical ability that children should learn in school are the following:

  • Conceptual comprehension of mathematical notions, properties, and relations
  • The development of procedural skills
  • Strategic thinkingformulating, representing, and solving problems
  • Communication skills and mathematical argumentation
  • Positive attitudes in regards to mathematics
  • Awareness of one’s own mathematical abilities

The teaching of mathematics in schools

In today’s present education system, the teaching of math has a focus that is routine and repetitive. In other words, children learn by performing constant calculations and arithmetic exercises. The goal of this practice if for abilities to eventually become automatic.

The mathematical activities that schools offer involve memorizing a series of steps in order to discover the solution. 

As a result, in many cases, children solve problems in a mechanical fashion without the need for reflection or logical reasoning. By carrying out the given steps in an automated fashion, they come to the correct answer.

In order to remedy this problem, teachers must learn to abandon traditional teaching methodology. Rather, they must apply more practical methods. In other words, students need to learn math through real-life activities that exemplify the use of numerical knowledge.

In this sense, education based on competencies includes a number of innovative elements. They are as follows:
  • Maximizing an active attitude in the process of learning math
  • Encouraging satisfaction and fun by teaching math through playful activities.
  • Developing creativity when it comes to solving problems
  • Promoting the manipulation of mathematical objects
  • Reflecting on the acquisition of logical thought
  • Encouraging students to have confidence in themselves
  • Maximizing the transfer of mathematical knowledge into real-life situations.
  • Developing the ability to effectively use new technology.
Mathematical Intelligence in Children

The importance of developing mathematical intelligence

Developing mathematical intelligence is a fundamental part of being able to live in modern culture and society. This is because this intellectual capacity allows us to understand schedules, maps, graphs, tables, analysis, etc. At the same time, it gives us the basic abilities that we need to make purchases and sales, pay bills, travel, follow recipes, etc.

In other words, thanks to the knowledge and understanding of logic and numerical calculus, we can carry out many daily tasks. At the same time, mathematical intelligence encourages critical and divergent thoughtWithout these abilities, we cannot perform the following tasks:

  • Carrying out debates and discussions, defending ideas with certain criteria.
  • Selecting and comprehending the information that the media presents, especially when this information has to do with mathematical aspects (statistics, news about the economy, etc).
  • Looking for patterns and relationships between ideas and concepts.
  • Paying attention to details.

With this in mind, it’s worth pointing out the following reflection that appears in the Manual on Mathematics and Teaching Approaches from the University of Granada, Spain:

“One of the purposes of education is to form cultured citizens, but the concept of culture is changing and is becoming broader and broader in modern society. Acknowledgment of the cultural role of mathematics is ever-growing and mathematical education also serves the purpose of affording this culture.”

– Godino, Batanero y Font – 

  • Cardoso, E. y Cerecedo, M. (2008). El desarrollo de las competencias matemáticas en la primera infancia. Revista iberoamericana de educación47(5), 1-11.
  • Chamorro, M. (2003): La didáctica de las matemáticas para primaria. España: Síntesis Educación.
  • Gobierno Vasco. (2010). Decretos curriculares para la Educación Infantil, Básica y Bachillerato de la Comunidad Autónoma del País Vasco. País Vasco: Departamento de Educación, Universidades e Investigación.
  • Godino, J. D., Batanero, C., y Font, V. (2003). Fundamentos de la enseñanza y el aprendizaje de las matemáticas para maestros. Granada: Universidad de Granada.