Preschool predictors of kindergarten math achievement

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Early numeracy is beginning to gain widespread attention in early childhood education. Number sense has been identified as the premier skill which provides the foundation for the acquisition of higher order mathematical skills and concepts. However, there is little agreement on how to best promote number sense in young children. Two specific number sense practices that have been cited most are counting aloud and playing with manipulatives. The primary purpose of this study was to determine if counting aloud and playing with manipulatives during preschool do, in fact, have independent relationships with later early numeracy skills in kindergarten. The secondary purpose of this study was to compare the two relationships to determine if one is a more powerful predictor. Data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study ' Birth Cohort (ECLS-B) was employed. Sequential regression demonstrated that counting aloud is not a significant predictor when simultaneously controlling for age, SES, and sex, nor is it a significant predictor when also controlling for manipulative use. Manipulative use is a significant predictor when simultaneously controlling for age, SES, and sex, and remains significant when also controlling for counting aloud. When comparing the two behaviors, playing with manipulatives is a more important predictor of later numeracy skills than is counting aloud. Implications for preschool curriculum practices are discussed.
Dissertation completed in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Doctor of Psychology degree in School Psychology at Alfred University, Alfred, NY.
Academic achievement, Mathematics, Predictor of scholastic success, Elementary school, Kindergarten