Early mathematical skills, which are learnt before comprehensive school in most countries, strongly predict later mathematical skills (Jordan, Glutting, & Ramineni, 2010; Kurdek & Sinclair, 2001; Lachance & Mazzocco, 2006). Studies using distinct mathematical subskills to predict later composite scores in mathematics provide more elaborate information. More precisely, counting skills (Aubrey et al., 2006; Krajewski & Schneider, 2009), basic arithmetic skills (Aunola et al., 2004), counting, number knowledge, nonverbal calculation, story problems and number combinations (Jordan, Kaplan, Locuniak, & Ramineni, 2007), calculation, number line and magnitude comparison (LeFevre et al., 2010), number reading (Passolunghi, Vercelloni, & Schadee, 2007) and mathematical-logical principles (Aunio & Niemivirta, 2010; Desoete, Stock, Schepens, Baeyens, & Roeyers, 2009; Stock, Desoete, & Roeyers, 2009) have been found to be good predictors of later mathematics performance. In other words, if a child has low early mathematical performance before school, she or he will most likely have problems learning mathematics in school (Jordan, Kaplan, Oláh, & Locuniak, 2006).
In a worst case scenario, the child’s weak early numeracy skills develop into mathematical learning difficulties later on. Children with mathematical learning difficulties have significant problems in basic arithmetic skills, which make mathematics learning at school very difficult and diminish the possibilities for later occupational education (Mazzocco, 2007; World Health Organization, 1992).
- Aubrey, C., Dahl, S., & Godfrey, R. (2006). Early mathematics development and later achievement: Further evidence. Mathematics Education Research Journal, 18(1), 27–46.
- Aunio, P. & Niemivirta, M. (2010). Predicting children’s mathematical performance in grade one by early numeracy. Learning and Individual Differences, 20(5), 427–435.
- Aunola, K., Leskinen, E., Lerkkanen, M. K., & Nurmi, J. E. (2004). Developmental dynamics of math performance from preschool to grade 2. Journal of Educational Psychology, 96(4), 699–713.
- Desoete, A., Stock, P., Schepens, A., Baeyens, D., & Roeyers, H. (2009). Classification, seriation, and counting in grades 1, 2, and 3 as two-year longitudinal predictors for low achieving in numerical facility and arithmetical achievement. Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment, 27(3), 252–264. doi:10.1177/0734282908330588
- Jordan, N. C., Glutting, J., & Ramineni, C. (2010). The importance of number sense to mathematics achievement in first and third grades. Learning and Individual Differences, 20, 82–88.
- Jordan, N. C., Kaplan, D., Locuniak, M. N., & Ramineni. C. (2007). Predicting first-grade math achievement from developmental number sense trajectories. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 22(1), 36–46.
- Jordan, N. C., Kaplan, D., Oláh, L., & Locuniak, M. N. (2006). Number sense growth in kindergarten: A longitudinal investigation of children at risk for mathematics difficulties. Child Development, 77(1), 153–175.
- Kurdek, L. A., & Sinclair, R. J. (2001). Predicting reading and mathematics achievement in fourth-grade children from kindergarten readiness scores. Journal of Educational Psychology, 93(3), 451–455.
- Lachance, J. A. & Mazzocco, M. M. M. (2006). A longitudinal analysis of sex differences in math and spatial skills in primary school age children. Learning and Individual Differences, 16, 195–216.
- LeFevre, J. A., Fast, L., Skwarchuk, S. L., Smith-Chant, B. L., Bisanz, J., Kamawar, J., & Penner-Wilger, M. (2010). Pathways to mathematics: Longitudinal predictors of performance. Child Development, 81(6), 1753–1767.
- Mazzocco, M. M. M. (2007). Defining and differentiating mathematical learning disabilities and difficulties. In D. B. Berch & M. M. M. Mazzocco (Eds.), Why is math so hard for some children? The nature and origins of mathematical learning difficulties and disabilities (pp. 29–47). Baltimore, MD: Paul Brookes Publishing.
- Passolunghi, M. C., Vercelloni, B., & Schadee, H. (2007). The precursors of mathematics learning: Working memory, phonological ability and numerical competence. Cognitive Development 22, 165–184.
- Stock, P., Desoete, A., & Roeyers, H. (2009). Predicting arithmetic abilities: The role of preparatory arithmetic markers and intelligence. Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment, 27(3), 237–251. doi:10.1177/0734282908330587
- World Health Organization. (1992). The ICD-10 classification of mental and behavioural disorders: Clinical descriptions and diagnostic guidelines. Geneva: World Health Organization.