Monday, December 26, 2016
Public Release: 6-Dec-2016
Children's early math knowledge related to later achievement
Not all skills related equally
Society for Research in Child Development
Educators, policymakers, and parents have begun to focus more on children's math learning in the earliest years. Yet parents and teachers still find it challenging to know which kinds of early math skills merit attention in the classroom. Determining how to help children achieve in math is important, particularly for children from low-income families who often enter school with weaker math knowledge than their peers. A new longitudinal study conducted in Tennessee has found that low-income children's math knowledge in preschool was related to their later achievement--but not all types of math knowledge were related equally. The findings suggest that educators and school administrators may want to consider carefully which areas of math study they shift attention to as they develop curricula for the early years.
Conducted by researchers at Vanderbilt University, the study appears in the journal Child Development.
Preschool math skills supported first-grade math skills, which in turn supported fifth-grade math knowledge, according to the study. In preschool, children's skills in patterning, comparing quantities, and counting objects were stronger predictors of their math achievement in fifth grade than other skills, the study found. By first grade, patterning remained important, and understanding written numbers and calculating emerged as important predictors of later achievement.