Emphasis on Counting Ability At Elementary School Ensures Better Math Skills

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Emphasis on Counting Ability at Preschool Ensures Better Math Skills A research by University of Missouri indicated that counting, which requires assigning numerical values to objects in chronological order, is more important for helping preschoolers acquire math skills.

“More emphasis should be put in counting as reciting alone is not enough to prepare kids for success in mathematics in elementary school,” said Louis Manfra, an assistant professor in University of Missouri’s Department of Human Development and Family Studies. “Reciting means saying the numbers from memory in chronological order, whereas counting involves understanding that each item in the set is counted once and that the last number stated is the amount for the entire set,” he said.

Manfra analyzed data from more than 3,000 children from low-income households in order to determine if the children’s reciting and counting abilities in preschool affected their first-grade math scores. He found that students who could recite and count to 20 in preschool had the highest math scores in first grade; however, less than 10 percent of the children in the study could count and recite to 20.

When children are just reciting, they’re basically repeating what seems like a memorized sentence. When they’re counting, they’re performing a more cognitive activity in which they’re associating a one-to-one correspondence with the object and the number to represent a quantity, the research indicates.

“Counting gives children stronger foundations when they start school,” Manfra said.

The research found that, the skills children have when they start kindergarten affect their trajectories through early elementary school; therefore, it’s important that children start with as many skills as possible. The low-income children aren’t learning math skills anywhere because parents think the children are learning them at school, and teachers think they’re learning them at home.

The study will be published in the Journal of Research in Childhood Education.

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