Engaging children in math at home helps them enhance their other skills

A team of scientists at Purdue University have published a study in the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology wherein they have shown how engaging a child in math at home not only helps them learn math, but also strengthen their other skills as well.

The findings of the study specifically point out that general vocabulary skills get a boost when child is exposed to basic math at home. Researchers believe that this is because engaging a child in math at home establishes a dialogue between the child and parents that helps boost the oral language skills of the child. Scientists say it is never early to talk about numbers as quantity comes inherently to us for example children learn to speak the word ‘more’ and that refers to quantity i.e. basic math at a certain extent.

There are a number of ways parents can encourage math learning at home, such as talking about counting, connecting numbers to quantities and comparing values – more and less. It also helps to focus on counting as purposeful, such as “there are three cookies for a snack” rather than “there are cookies for a snack.”

One of the things pointed out by scientists is that despite these benefits, parents do not focus on imparting basic math skills at home and the findings show us that when parents do include math concepts it can make a difference. While parents may be curious about how to teach their kids math, basic counting is more and sufficient to help the child learn more things and that’s how basic math skills advance.

This study evaluated 116 preschool children, ages 3-5. The researchers assessed the children’s math and language skills in the fall and spring of the preschool year and examined how what their parents reported about math and literacy activities at home predicted children’s improvement over time. Napoli and Purpura do caution that these findings are only correlational and the future experimental work is needed to evaluate the causal nature of these findings. This research is ongoing work supported by Purdue’s Department of Human Development and Family Studies.

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