Children's Numbers

Children's Numbers

Children's Numbers

Children's Numbers


Children's developing understanding of numbers is a topic at the intersection of cognitive-developmental psychology and education. In this book, these two perspectives are interwoven and shown to be highly complementary in child number learning.


Perhaps book contracts should come with cautionary labels, like cigarettes:

WARNING: This endeavor may consume years of your life.

This one took far longer than my wildest projections. Far outweighing the unexpected costs, however, were the unexpected satisfactions of finding coherence and both theoretical and practical significance in the intersection of the fields of cognitive development, mathematical cognition, and education from which I have drawn the material for this book.

Children's Numbers was written primarily for students in psychology, particularly advanced undergraduates and graduate students. I have done my best not to presuppose any prior knowledge about research or theory in either cognitive development or education, so that the book can be used in a wide range of classes regardless of the students' backgrounds. I have not, however, sacrificed any of the complexity of the theoretical or empirical issues for the sake of simplicity, although I have tried to make the ideas as clear as I could. It is probably the difficulty of this subject matter, more than any prerequisite knowledge, that will constrain the level of instruction at which the book can be used.

My goal has been to illuminate the progress of children's ideas about numbers in a way that would make clear both how it is that young children know as much as they do and how it is that they often have so much trouble with mathematics. To this end, I have found a variety of perspectives developed in other areas of cognitive development useful as well as a large body of research and theory specifically on mathematical reasoning. Because the book treats the development of numerical knowledge as a problem very much in the mainstream of cognitivedevelopment research, I hope it will be useful not only in courses specifically concerned with the development of mathematical knowledge but also in more general courses on cognitive development.

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