Mathematics in early childhood: an investigation of mathematics skills in preschool and kindergarten students

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The current literature in early childhood mathematics provides for little explanation of early mathematics skill acquisition in young children. This study was designed to use existing research on specific early mathematics skills to examine a cohesive model of mathematics skills in preschool and kindergarten aged students. Preschool and kindergarten students were recruited from several programs in New York State, and each of these students completed a set of eight assessment tasks measuring aspects of early mathematics skills. Results of confirmatory factor analyses indicated that combining the assessment tasks already demonstrated in the literature provided an appropriate model of early childhood mathematics skill acquisition. Seven skills demonstrated moderate to strong correlations with a latent variable of early childhood mathematics skills: One to one correspondence, the stable order principle, cardinality, the order irrelevance principle, number identification, oral counting, and informal addition and subtraction. The number skill of magnitude demonstrated a weak correlation with early childhood mathematics skills in this study. The variables that demonstrated the strongest correlations were informal addition and subtraction and the stable order principle followed closely by cardinality, one to one correspondence, order irrelevance, number identification, and oral counting skills. This information can be used to guide assessments for this age group, which often limit which of these areas are assessed. In addition, knowledge about the relationships of specific tasks to overall skill development can guide Response to Intervention practices where teachers assess children's levels of learning and develop instruction specific to those needs.
Dissertation completed in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Doctor of Psychology degree in School Psychology at Alfred University, Alfred, NY.
Mathematics, Preschool, Kindergarten