Some people may just be born with a talent for math. I mean, we’ve known that practicing your times tables makes for better multiplication, but new research shows that our inborn sense of numbers is linked to our math ability, even before any training in math.
Researchers gave 200 four-year-olds tests of number sense, which is the ability to guess quantities without counting. In this test kids watched groups of blue and yellow dots flash on a computer screen, and had to guess which color was more numerous. Some comparisons were obvious, like two blue and eight yellow. Others were tough, like five blue and six yellow. Researchers also tested the children's basic math skills.
Kids who could judge that a group of six yellow dots is larger than a group of five blue dots were also better at arithmetic. Meaning that number sense correlated with basic math skills, even in pre-schoolers. The study appears in the journal Developmental Science.
Good number sense in adolescents was thought to be linked to good instruction, but turns out from this study that the link between good number sense and good math skills exists before instruction.