Mom’s Help Boosts Math Success

September 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Developmental psychologists have found that early math skills may be just as important as language skills in predicting later school success. We have details on how parents of preschoolers can help their kids get ahead.

Playing with blocks is a simple way to spend quality time and one of the ways parents can start building their preschoolers’ math skills.

Eric Dearing, PhD, a developmental and educational psychologist at Boston College, explained: “The ways that mothers were interacting with their three-year-olds predicted out to when children were four and a half years of age, as well as when they’re in first grade, their math skills on math achievement tests.”

Developmental and educational psychologists at Boston College developed ways to measure how moms guided their child’s learning as they played with blocks and a toy cash register. They then applied those new assessments to a previous group of 140 moms and kids who took part in ten minutes of videotaped playtime. The researchers found that children whose parents helped them understand quantities of small sets of items fared better on preschool and first grade math tests.

“When talking about sets of objects, use gestures such as pointing to go through each object one at a time and identify the number associated with that object,” said Dearing.

The findings suggest that learning about set sizes helps with a crucial concept in early math: the last number stated when counting is the quantity.

Dearing said, “That seems rather intuitive to adults but it’s something that children have to, in fact, learn.”

Professor Dearing said parents should look for commonplace items to count out loud: fruit in a grocery bag, ingredients on the counter, blocks on the floor. This can help your child’s math skills stack up down the road.

Researchers said the children who did better on math tests in preschool also did better on addition and subtraction problems in first grade. The study was published in the journal Society for Research in Child Development.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising and Field Producer; Milvionne Chery, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Editor and Videographer.

Produced by Child Trends News Service in partnership with Ivanhoe Broadcast News and funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation. 

Spanish Translation

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Psicólogos de desarrollo encontraron que habilidades en las matemáticas, desde muy pequeños, son tan importante como las habilidades de lenguaje para predecir el triunfo escolar. Tenemos más información sobre como los padres pueden ayudar a sus niños en prescolar.

Es una manera simple para compartir tiempo juntos y una manera de empezar a crear habilidades en las matemáticas.

Psicólogos de desarrollo y educación de Boston College desarrollaron formas de medir cómo las madres guiaban el aprendizaje de su niño, mientras jugaban con bloques y una registradora de juguete. Después los psicólogos aplicaron esta nueva evaluación a un grupo previo de 140 madres y niños y los grabaron por 10 minutos mientras jugaban. Los investigadores encontraron que los padres que ayudaron a los niños a entender cantidades de pequeños conjuntos, les fue mejor en exámenes de matemáticas prescolar y primer grado.

Las conclusiones sugieren que aprender sobre los tamaños de conjuntos ayuda con un concepto crucial en matemáticas elemental. Cuando se cuenta, el último número es la cantidad. Los padres deben de usar artículos comunes para contar en voz alta, como por ejemplo, frutas en la tienda, ingredientes de una receta, o los azulejos en el piso. Ayudar a sus niños en matemáticas puede prepararles para su futuro.

Los investigadores dicen que a los que les fue mejor en pruebas de matemáticas en prescolar, también fueron mejores en problemas de suma y resta en primer grado. Este estudio lo publicaron en Society for Research in Child Development.

Los contribuyentes a este reportaje incluyen: Cyndy McGrath, Supervisora y Productora de Campo; Milvionne Chery, Productora Assistente; Roque Correa, Editor y Camarografo.

Producido por Child Trends News Service en asocio con Ivanhoe Broadcast News y auspiciado por una beca de la National Science Foundation.