DH wants to teach our DS set theory. DS is 17mo.

(95 Posts)
Herrena Sun 18-Nov-12 17:18:22

His exact message:
"Should I teach DS about sets or jump straight in to counting?"

Personally I don't understand why DH isn't happy with teaching DS to count like everybody else, but then my grasp of mathematics is - as he cheerfully informs me - minimal.

I think he's mad. He thinks I don't understand.

Any advice out there?!

RandallPinkFloyd Sun 18-Nov-12 22:46:10

DS is a couple of months younger but I'd like to get an early start.

Will a "simple venn diagram" confused help him work out where his nose is?

Silibilimili Sun 18-Nov-12 22:53:40

Go with it. Set theory (the name) sounds very mathematical but we all do this to some extent all day very day. No big deal. Why does it have to be either or? Teach both recognition of numbers and sets!

ChippingInLovesAutumn Sun 18-Nov-12 23:00:29

It is making me laugh - why does he feel it's either or? Most of us manage both on a daily basis! grin

BarbecuedBillygoats Sun 18-Nov-12 23:05:27

Also useful is being able to recognise written numbers and how they relate to actual objects

seeker Sun 18-Nov-12 23:08:20

I tried to teach my PFB to read ( I' m of a literary bent- it could just as well have been set theory) by using flash cards. I used to hold up cards and say, with great ceremony "This says Dog!" until one day, she picked up a random card, held it up and said "Dis say Silly".

She learned to read at school when she was about 6. Like everyone else. But making the flash cards gave me something to do, I suppose.

CuriousMama Sun 18-Nov-12 23:09:08

Sounds interesting as long as like someone else said, your dh is patient.

DS1 manages such as this at that age. DS2 not at all. You just go at their pace.

CuriousMama Sun 18-Nov-12 23:09:18


MordionAgenos Sun 18-Nov-12 23:10:52

@chipping actually, it's a very philosophical decision - do you go with helping a child to understand stuff from first principles, or do you go with rote learning. I personally have never had a problem with rote learning as one way of getting a job done (but then, I have a photographic memory, so, not a real issue for me) however it is an unavoidable truth that if you don't understand maths at afundamental conceptual level it doesn't matter how good your memory is, you will come up against your limitations probably before you leave primary school.

Obviously you don't have to start this process at one year old. But you don't have to NOT start it at that age, either.

JollyJock Sun 18-Nov-12 23:14:16

I was thinking about this the other day when trying to explain to 19mo Ds about putting like objects together. (Not that I knew what it was called at that point). It's not possible to do it until your child knows some characteristics, e.g. big and small, red and blue. You can't suggest making a pile of red bricks and a pile of blue ones unless your child knows the difference between the two colours. Otherwise you are trying to teach too many concepts at once. (I think. Clearly you can and will all approach parenting in your own ways and this is just my view).

They also need to be able to understand and remember fairly complex instructions. "Red things go here, blue things go there."

Ds says one, more. So he was pointing at my eyebrows today. The first one was "eyebrow" and the second was "more". I was very impressed!

I agree with the poster up thread who said that the ability to say "one, two, three, four five" is not the same as the ability to count. You do need to have names for numbers in order to count though. Or in order to convey your counting to other people at least.

Aboutlastnight Mon 19-Nov-12 01:37:46

You just leave them with a play farm or play garage or something and give them animals, cars and then let him get on with it. He will start to 'sort' his toys. You can then count them back into the box.

Aboutlastnight Mon 19-Nov-12 04:41:23

I don't think you need to suggest anything to them either - let them group stuff according to their own categorisation - it will become increasingly more complex as their understanding becomes more complex.

So it may be that the groupies initially all animals with a dark colour are grouped but as the chil learns more they may put mammals and reptiles in groups based on appearance . Later they will group digs and then horses. Later still, Labradors and German shepherds.

( I know it is nearly 5am, but am on nightshift!)

learnandsay Mon 19-Nov-12 12:01:37

I think it's a brilliant idea. He can then draw braces on the boys draws and cupboards, number all his toys and whenever the bedroom is untidy he can comment that all of your sons elements are out of order. Maths by doing. It's a great idea.

Herrena Mon 19-Nov-12 15:50:01

Well I was unconvinced, frankly, until DH mentioned that lego would be useful for this. Then I remembered how when we first got the lego (DS1 was around 11mo) I pounced upon it and started sorting it into colour groups and eagerly pointed these out to DS1, who solemnly nodded and began to eat them.

So according to DH, the teaching of set theory has already started and I was the instigator shock

I think you're right about the categorisation btw aboutlastnight. Was it someone on here who mentioned that we'd begin on set theory automatically anyway when he first starts eating Smarties? Because I used to carefully divide them up and count them and then eat them in strict order still do blush

noblegiraffe Mon 19-Nov-12 16:04:50

Get your DH to read the Wikipedia article on New Math.

This was the American project to teach stuff like set theory from a young age to 'lay the foundations' for future study. It was a disaster and quickly abandoned in favour of the more traditional 'teaching kids to add up'.

By all means encourage DS to sort his toys 'ok, here are things which are red and here are cars, which belong in both groups?' but not over teaching him to count.

strumpetpumpkin Mon 19-Nov-12 16:15:26

is this thread along the same lines as mornington crescent?

GrimmaTheNome Mon 19-Nov-12 16:21:51

>is this thread along the same lines as mornington crescent?
no (but if anyone fancies a game, do start a thread) grin

You could do the 'venn diagram' by sorting bricks by two different properties at once (eg red, big) -into two overlapping hoops on the floor. There will be some that are big and red which go into the intersecting area.

Anyhow - parents the world over encourage their kids to sort, and IIRC it happens before kids really get the hang of counting.

Herrena Mon 19-Nov-12 16:23:53

strumpetpumpkin - eh? I don't understand blush

noblegiraffe - I will point DH in the direction of said article. Thanks!

UptoapointLordCopper Mon 19-Nov-12 16:40:38

You can teach set theory and counting and adding up, you know. That's the beauty of having class size 1. I have class size 2 at home, and have been teaching them whatever we like since forever. It's fun. smile

DilysPrice Mon 19-Nov-12 16:44:33

Is your husband Bertrand Russell OP? He was of the opinion that all numbers were fundamentally artefacts of set theory: hence the number two was in its essence the sets of all sets with two things in them. Actually because that is based around the fundamental notion of one-to-one correspondance, I think it might be a perfectly reasonable thing to bear in mind when introducing a toddler to numbers.

OTOH Russell, despite his many fine characteristics, was a pathological philanderer, and dead, so not brilliant husband material.

noblegiraffe Mon 19-Nov-12 16:46:48

Russell also took hundreds of pages to prove that 1+1=2 which some people might consider a bit of a waste of time!

UptoapointLordCopper Mon 19-Nov-12 16:48:49

Since we are talking about Russell, has anyone read Logicomix? Top book!

DilysPrice Mon 19-Nov-12 17:15:54

It is indeed a great book.

sittinginthesun Mon 19-Nov-12 17:19:26

Isn't this all just a complicated way of describing what children tend to do anyway? Many toddlers like to sort things into colours, shapes etc.

In fact, DS2, on his 1st Birthday, managed to separate the food from his party plate into very neat piles of different foods on the table, leaving only the Toddler style "crisps" on his plate.

Budding mathematician maybe wink

flussymummy Mon 19-Nov-12 20:18:15

I'm with uptoapoint on this one. Sort items into sets and then count them. Works particularly well with Smarties I find, as you can introduce some basic subtraction as they are eaten...

Whatdoiknowanyway Tue 20-Nov-12 10:07:58

My husband solemnly instructed our 3 day old baby on the details of Pythagoras' theory. Can't say it's made much difference to her mathematical ability but it amused him at the time.

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