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How Parents Support Early Numeracy Development During Shared Math Storybook Reading

Uscianowski, Colleen

Math storybook reading can be a beneficial activity in the home numeracy environment that facilitates children’s exploration and understanding of numbers. Parents play an important role in guiding and supporting their children’s math development through their joint engagement in the story. Exploring how parents and their children interact during home activities such as math storybook reading is crucial given strong associations between the home numeracy environment and later academic success. The primary goal of this study was to investigate how parents supported their children’s early numeracy development as they responded to children’s number mistakes and engaged their children in conversation about the number concepts present in the story. Observations of parent-child interactions (n = 47) while reading a math storybook and interviews with parents were intended to uncover how parents can use storybooks as a means of involving their children in math learning and guiding their understanding of numbers. The present study expands on the extant math storybook literature by examining the role of parental beliefs and home practices in shaping parents’ and children’s behaviors during math storybook reading. Results indicated that parents’ beliefs about the importance of early math learning and their role in helping their children learn math were associated with a lower frequency of children’s simple math mistakes, a greater degree of support parents provided in response to those mistakes, and a greater amount of simple math concepts parents discussed with their children while reading. Furthermore, children exposed to a greater frequency of home counting activities completed more of the math tasks in the storybook. Finally, three main factors that appeared to drive parents’ selection and use of math storybooks were children’s interest, attention spans, and math abilities. These findings support the use of math storybooks as a potentially beneficial activity that can elicit positive parent-child interactions around number concepts and demonstrate that parents are intentional in how they use storybooks to guide their children’s math development. The results are discussed in relation to home support for early numerical development and contextualized within the math storybook literature.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Cognitive Studies in Education
Thesis Advisors
Ginsburg, Herbert P.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
May 15, 2018