Experience has taught me that there are many parents of young children who are already worried about SAT scores and college admissions. Some of you may find you way to this blog. This post is for you. I originally wrote it in response to a question on Quora. I decided to be lazy and let it do double duty. :)
A parent recently asked, “What is the best online math site for an advanced 3-year-old?”
This is my response:
Please don't put your 3-year-old in front of a computer to learn math. Even the best websites are heavily computation oriented and an advanced student will pick that up naturally without a website.
Ideally you would be able to find a math circle that includes young children, but if not, play games! Work puzzles! If you don't have time to do this with your child, hire an advanced high school or college student to come over a couple of times per week.
Some great games and puzzles:
Towers of Hanoi
the chips game (which you can read about here)
When you are playing together, think out loud during your turns. Model the problem solving you want her to learn. Handicap yourself so that the games are about even and praise effort, progress and creative thinking.
While an online math site may teach your child to add and subtract earlier than her peers, this will not give her an advantage in the long run. Furthermore, expecting a website to fill in for hands-on experience could lead to a Sandbox Deficit. Experiencing the world and interacting with intelligent, articulate adults will have a far more lasting impact in the long run.