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Numerical activities and information learned at home link to the exact numeracy skills in 5-6 years-old children

It is currently accepted that certain activities within the family environment contribute to develop early numerical skills before schooling. However, it is unknown whether this early experience influences both the exact and the approximate representation of numbers, and if so, which is more important for numerical tasks. In the present study the mathematical performance of 110 children (mean age 5 years 11 months) was evaluated using a battery that included tests of approximate and exact numerical abilities, as well as everyday numerical problems. Moreover, children were assessed on their knowledge of number information learned at home. The parents of the participants provided information regarding daily activities of the children and socio-demographic characteristics of the family. The results showed that the amount of numerical information learned at home was a significant predictor of participants' performance on everyday numerical problems and exact number representations, even after taking account of age, memory span and socio-economic and educational status of the family. We also found that particular activities, such as board games, correlate with the children's counting skills, which are foundational for arithmetic. Crucially, tests relying on approximate representations were not predicted by the numerical knowledge acquired at home. The present research supports claims about the importance and nature of home experiences in the child's acquisition of mathematics. (author abstract)
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Reports & Papers

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