Making More of Mathematics: Preschool Mathematics and Executive Function

The purpose of this study is to evaluate instructional activities that are designed to facilitate growth in young children’s mathematical and executive function (EF) skills. Our long-term objective is to identify how to promote the integrated development of children’s mathematical thinking and EF skills.

We focus on mathematics and EF because each domain is important for academic achievement and daily living skills. Although the underlying mechanisms of the math-EF linkages are not well understood, EF skills support problem solving, which plays a critical role in mathematics, including early mathematics.

We aim to systematically evaluate whether carefully developed mathematics activities contribute to the development of EF and mathematics, and how gains in math and EF interact with children’s current levels of EF and math skills. The knowledge gained from this work will be useful in guiding teachers’ interactions with young children, and may improve the quality of math activities available to children in classrooms.

This work is being completed in select Minneapolis Public School pre-K classrooms and in the Math and Numeracy Lab.

Making More of Mathematics is being conducted as part of the Development and Research in Early Math Education (DREME) Network and is funded by the Heising-Simons Foundation.