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The role of parent-led and child-led home numeracy activities in early mathematical skills

journal contribution
posted on 12.05.2022, 10:32 by Jayne Trickett, Sophie Batchelor, Bonnie Brittle, Megan FoulkesMegan Foulkes, Jayne PickeringJayne Pickering, Felicity SlocombeFelicity Slocombe, Camilla GilmoreCamilla Gilmore

Existing studies have shown mixed evidence for the role of the home numeracy environment (HNE) in supporting children’s early numeracy skills. To address some of the limitations of the existing literature, the present study used a multi-method approach to assess the parent-led HNE. Parents of children aged 3-5 years completed a questionnaire to assess the frequency of engagement in home numeracy activities and parent and child number talk was coded from play-based observations to assess the quality of engagement. This study also assessed the role of child-led home numeracy activities, including child number talk and Spontaneous Focusing on Numerosity (SFON) on early numeracy skills. Children (n =164) were assessed on six early number skills (counting, cardinal knowledge, ordering skills, digit naming, arithmetic and symbolic to non-symbolic number mapping). Parent-led activities (questionnaire-assessed HNE activities and parent number talk) were not significantly associated with the composite of these six numeracy skills. There was also no significant association between parent-reported frequency of engagement in HNE activities and parent number talk. Child-led skills (SFON and child number talk) were not significantly associated with the composite numeracy score. Children’s and parents’ use of cardinal number talk was associated with children’s performance on the cardinality task, although associations were small (rs =.22 to .31). This study adds further moderate evidence that parent-led home numeracy activities may not be associated with overall early numeracy skills, and we consider next steps for researchers seeking to understand the role of the HNE.


Spontaneous focusing on numerosity and the development of early numerical skills

Economic and Social Research Council

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Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship



  • Science


  • Mathematics Education Centre

Published in

Cognitive Development




AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Publisher statement

This paper was accepted for publication in the journal Cognitive Development and the definitive published version is available at [insert DOI link]

Acceptance date







Prof Camilla Gilmore. Deposit date: 11 May 2022