Non-symbolic approximate arithmetic training improves math performance in preschoolers
Journal of Experimental Child Psychology
Math proficiency in early school age is an important predictor of later academic achievement. Thus, an important goal for society should be to improve math readiness in pre-school age children, especially in low-income children who typically arrive in kindergarten with less mathematical competency than their higher-income peers. The majority of existing research-based math intervention programs target symbolic, verbal number concepts in young children. However, very little attention has been
... d to the preverbal, intuitive ability to approximately represent numerical quantity, which is hypothesized to be an important foundation for full-fledged mathematical thinking. Here, we test the hypothesis that repeated engagement of non-symbolic approximate addition and subtraction of large array of items results in improved math skills in very young children, an idea that stems from our previous studies in adults. Three to five year-old children showed selective improvements in math skills after multiple days of playing a tabletbased non-symbolic approximate arithmetic game compared to children who played a memory game. These findings, collectively with our previous reports, suggest that mental manipulation of approximate numerosities provides an important tool for improving math readiness, even in preschoolers who have yet to master the meaning of number words.