Friday, April 6, 2018

Why do early mathematics skills predict later reading? The role of mathematical language

Reading and math tasks both depend on oral language and code-related skills. Math and literacy share a persistent bidirectional developmental relationship. Considerable evidence has demonstrated that early reading predicts later math, but the opposite relationship has also been reported. In the case of early math predicting later reading skills, the extent to which this relationship can be accounted for simply by the language load of early math tasks or reflects a unique association is unclear. The present study examined whether the relationship between early math and later reading skills is mediated by mathematical language ability.

A total of 136 preschool children completed measures of early numeracy skills and mathematical language, early literacy skills (print knowledge, phonological awareness, definitional vocabulary), and general cognitive ability at the beginning of the school year, and again about 5 months later. The mathematical language measure assessed comparative language (e.g., combine, more) and spatial language (e.g., near, far). In multilevel modelling, the relationship between early numeracy skills and later reading was entirely mediated by mathematical language ability.

Although this study examines predictive relationships over only a 5-month window, it does underscore the language load of early mathematical tasks. The findings highlight the cross curricular impact of language disorders.

Blogger: Lisa Archibald

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