ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire)—Many parents send their young children to preschool to help them gain social skills and prepare for kindergarten. But a new study shows what they learn about numbers might also have an impact on their future academic achievement.
Singing…coloring…and playing. Preschool is about having fun for most kids, but a new study shows what they learn during these years could predict their success later on. Researchers gave 141 preschool-aged children 12 different tasks to complete, twice a year, and followed their progress for two years of preschool and through first grade. Results showed children who mastered certain math lessons in preschool showed better math achievement in first grade. The most important skill that predicted later math success was something called cardinal reasoning—or knowing that the number of items you count is the total number in a set. For instance, knowing that four means four things.
Researchers say it’s easy to practice these math skills with your preschooler. To help with cardinal reasoning, try giving them three crackers and count as you point to each. Repeat the last number, “three,” to clarify that it’s the total number in the set. For helping them understand relative quantity, give them two crackers and yourself one. Say, “Look, you have two crackers and I have one. Who has more?” Repeat this exercise with different numbers.
Previous studies have shown that proficient math skills at the end of high school are a strong indicator of an individual’s economic and occupational success.
Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Julie Marks, Writer; Roque Correa, Editor.
Produced by Child Trends News Service in partnership with Ivanhoe Broadcast News and funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation.