How do families of young children teach early math concepts at home? A Research review from Purdue University

In this review of research from Purdue University, they share what they found by looking at large scale, long-term studies to identify the strongest predictors of children’s mathematics achievement.

Their paper includes a summary of the basic skills that kids learn at home that lead to better math achievement in school, and things beyond learning at home that lead to differences in math achievement.

Recommendations for Schools

1. “Families are busy and need help to see math opportunities in everyday activities, or to recognize the math they are already doing. For example, one practitioner suggested parents could talk about the numbers on their cell phones and help their children match them to numbers they see in their environment.”

2. “We need to take advantage of opportunities to meet with families where they already are beyond school. Several practitioners noted that there are opportunities to reach families outside of school and that these efforts have proven effective. One described a Saturday morning math club for parents and children. Others described connecting with families where they are—community basketball programs, pediatricians’ offices, community-based resource centers, laundromats—and building on existing relationships to help families enhance math in their lives.”

3. “Families and communities need to be engaged as partners in the process. Practitioners talked about the importance of incorporating parent voices into efforts and decisions surrounding family math. As an example, one practitioner described how they recruited older children and parents to co-construct installations for families with younger children. Engaging the community helps ensure that resources are placed in areas that families actually frequent and in contexts that are meaningful.”

4. Even before their children enter school, families can be educated by their local districts about what informal, early math learning looks like at home. “…Foundational math skills go beyond counting…Some parents have an expectation that math needs to be completed through homework and worksheets.”

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