Playing numerical board games boosts number skills of low-income preschoolers

Mar 25, 2008

Playing numerical board games can improve low-income preschoolers’ number skills, offering a promising way to reduce the discrepancies in numerical knowledge between children from poor families and those from middle-income families.

That’s the main finding of a study that appears in the March/April 2008 issue of the journal Child Development. The study was carried out by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University.

Children vary greatly in the math knowledge they bring to school, with children from poor families tending to have far less math knowledge than their peers from middle-class families. These differences appear to have large and long-term consequences, with proficiency in math at the start of kindergarten strongly predictive of math achievement test scores years later. The gap in math knowledge likely reflects differences in exposure at home to informal numerical activities, including numerical board games. Board games with consecutively numbered, linearly arranged spaces—think Chutes and Ladders—provide children with good opportunities to learn about the relation between numerals and their sizes.

Would providing low-income preschoolers with experience playing numerical board games improve their understanding of numbers"

In the study, preschool students from low-income backgrounds who attended Head Start centers played a numerical board game for four 15-minute sessions. The researchers found that this activity increased the children’s proficiency at counting, identifying printed numerals, comparing the relative sizes of numbers, and estimating the position of numbers on number lines. All of the gains remained nine weeks after the experience, and were comparable for African American and White children. Children who played an identical board game, except that the squares varied in color rather than number, did not improve any of the four skills.

“Playing numerical board games appears to be a promising (and inexpensive) way to improve preschoolers’ numerical knowledge and to reduce discrepancies in the numerical knowledge that children from low-income and middle-income families bring to school,” report Geetha B. Ramani, who is now assistant professor of human development at the University of Maryland, and Robert Siegler, Teresa Heinz Professor of Cognitive Psychology at Carnegie Mellon University, the study’s authors.

Source: Society for Research in Child Development

Explore further: Continued reliance on Windows XP in physician practices may threaten data security

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Bill Gates: From teen geek to world's richest man

Feb 04, 2014

As a geeky-looking teenager, he started in a garage and created the world's biggest software company. He then became the world's richest man and the world's most prominent philanthropist.

Power (of electronics) to the people

Jan 15, 2014

MIT Media Lab alumna and entrepreneur Ayah Bdeir SM '06 wants to help all people worldwide, tech savvy or not, understand and build creatively with electronics.

Recommended for you

What are the chances that your dad isn't your dad?

14 hours ago

How confident are you that the man you call dad is really your biological father? If you believe some of the most commonly-quoted figures, you could be forgiven for not being very confident at all. But how ...

New technology that is revealing the science of chewing

Apr 15, 2014

CSIRO's 3D mastication modelling, demonstrated for the first time in Melbourne today, is starting to provide researchers with new understanding of how to reduce salt, sugar and fat in food products, as well ...

After skin cancer, removable model replaces real ear

Apr 11, 2014

(HealthDay)—During his 10-year struggle with basal cell carcinoma, Henry Fiorentini emerged minus his right ear, and minus the hearing that goes with it. The good news: Today, the 56-year-old IT programmer ...

Italy scraps ban on donor-assisted reproduction

Apr 09, 2014

Italy's Constitutional Court on Wednesday struck down a Catholic Church-backed ban against assisted reproduction with sperm or egg donors that has forced thousands of sterile couples to seek help abroad.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Down's chromosome cause genome-wide disruption

The extra copy of Chromosome 21 that causes Down's syndrome throws a spanner into the workings of all the other chromosomes as well, said a study published Wednesday that surprised its authors.

How kids' brain structures grow as memory develops

Our ability to store memories improves during childhood, associated with structural changes in the hippocampus and its connections with prefrontal and parietal cortices. New research from UC Davis is exploring ...

Ebola virus in Africa outbreak is a new strain

The Ebola virus that has killed scores of people in Guinea this year is a new strain—evidence that the disease did not spread there from outbreaks in some other African nations, scientists report.