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Putting it All Together: Developing a More Comprehensive Theory of Early Mathematics Development

This research supplements our current project being funded by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), U.S. Department of Education to evaluate how well children’s pattern and spatial skills at the beginning of preschool predict their mathematics knowledge at the end of preschool. Additional funding provided by the Heising-Simons Foundation will expand the scope of this research to examine the predictive relations of these skills to math knowledge at the end of Kindergarten, and explore the role of parents in this development. The overarching goal of this project is to develop a more comprehensive theory of early mathematics development, integrating a broader range of math-relevant skills, and understanding how parents support them.

Study 1 focuses on the nature and influence of parental support for the development of early math-related skills (i.e., pattern, spatial and number), as well as how parental beliefs explain variation in the nature of parents’ support of their preschoolers’ math development during math-related experiences. Study 2 is a one-year follow-up of children’s math skills at the end of kindergarten so we can explore how children’s skills in preschool predict math knowledge after school entry, as well as how parents’ beliefs and actions in preschool are related to this later knowledge. This research aims to provide compelling evidence to parents, teachers, and policymakers about the value of a broader range of early math-relevant skills, and how they can be supported.

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