Children who begin school unprepared in reading may close the gap later if provided with the appropriate measures. It may however be much more difficult for children starting behind in math. Learning mathematics is an incremental process in which concepts pile up one after the other. If some essential basic bricks are missing, it becomes very hard to reach the higher floors.

“As a society we have paid more attention to reading in the past few decades,” says Daniel Ansari, head of the Western’s Numerical Cognition Laboratory at the University of Western Ontario. “But more and more I think people are recognizing the importance of math skills… and I think with the research we’re really catching up.”

To be ready to get into formal math children need, before all, a clear understanding of numbers and the quantities they represent. Math, as the most important academic subject beside language, should never be neglected, from the earliest years.

Image: Allegory of Arithmetic, by Laurent de La Hyre (Wikimedia Commons, w/Effects)