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Early Math – It’s More Than Just Counting

Recent research out of Vanderbilt University confirms that success in math in the later elementary grades is directly linked to how math skills are taught in pre-school. The longitudinal study found that not all types of math knowledge were related equally. As we refine our math curriculum for Red Door, we will use this research to guide us.1

The research study was led by Bethany Rittle-Johnson, Professor of Psychology and Human Development at Vanderbilt’s Peabody College of Education and Human Development. Rittle-Johnson states “Counting, calculating, and understanding written numbers already get a lot of attention from teachers and parents, for good reasons.” She goes on to say, “However, comparing quantities may merit more attention in pre-school, and patterning knowledge may merit more attention in both pre-school and the early elementary years.”2

The researchers determined that while pre-school math nearly always includes the study of shapes, it may not include the teaching of patterning and on comparing quantities. The study concluded that patterning skills learned in pre-school predicted future math achievement in Grade 5.3

How will Red Door use the results of this research in planning our math curriculum? We will continue to plan math lessons that help children learn to make predictions, sequence objects (patterning) and compare quantities. Children will learn estimation by comparing: Who has more pennies in their pile? Are there more Sweet Tarts or Gummy Bears in your Halloween treat bag?

Rittle-Johnson and colleagues suggest that parents also engage their children in activities that reinforce these findings. Click here for activities that help preschoolers learn the important skill of comparing quantities. -Karol A. DiPasquale, Executive Director

1, 3 Research News @ Vanderbilt 12/06/16, 2 Early Math Trajectories: Low Income Children’s Mathematical Knowledge From Age 4 – 11, Bethany Rittle-Johnson, Journal of Child Development, 2016.



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