Faculty of Education
Role of Adult Input on Young Children’s Development of Number
Research by Joanne Lee, Donna Kotsopoulos
Difficulties in mathematics are widespread in Canada as well as in other industrialized nations. Children who are weak in basic arithmetic may not acquire the conceptual structures required for advanced mathematics. Many students do not reach this stage of advanced mathematics, which serves as a gateway to careers across many disciplines. Development of counting is a critical pathway to learning about weaknesses linked to mathematical difficulties later in formal schooling (e.g., Geary, 2003). Additionally, the informal acquisition of number concepts before children enter kindergarten has been found to be related to number knowledge development, which is a strong predictor of arithmetic achievement in first grade (Baker et al., 2002). The aim of the proposed research is to investigate whether the total amount of mathematically relevant input by parents in their speech (e.g., “You need two puzzle pieces”) during the early years (ages 18 months to 36 months) is related to an earlier acquisition of the meanings of the number words in terms of numerosity. This research examines whether young children’s mapping between the non-verbal and verbal systems of numerosity can be facilitated by the amount of mathematics input by adults. This could lead to an earlier acquisition of the counting concept (before age three). This research is being conducted in the children’s home and uses intermodal preferential looking method (IPL). The overarching goal is to understand how and why some children become good at mathematics whereas others fail to do so.