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The roles of patterning and spatial skills in early mathematics development

Because math knowledge begins to develop at a young age to varying degrees, it is important to identify foundational cognitive and academic skills that might contribute to its development. The current study focused on two important, but often overlooked skills that recent evidence suggests are important contributors to early math development: patterning and spatial skills. We assessed preschool children's repeating patterning skills, spatial skills, general cognitive skills and math knowledge at the beginning of the pre-kindergarten year. We re-assessed their math knowledge near the end of the school year, with complete data for 73 children. Children's repeating patterning and spatial skills were related and were each unique predictors of children's math knowledge at the same time point and seven months later. Further, repeating patterning skills predicted later math knowledge even after controlling for prior math knowledge. Thus, although repeating patterning and spatial skills are related, repeating patterning skills are a unique predictor of math knowledge and growth. Both theories of early math development and early math standards should be expanded to incorporate a role for repeating patterning and spatial skills. (author abstract)
Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
United States

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