The Mathchild project is designed to map preliminary math skills and emerging formal math skills of children from kindergarten to second grade (groep 4). Especially the transition from nonsymbolic math skills to formal, symbolic math skills is accentuated in this project. For example, children in kindergarten use precursors of official mathematic skills: they learn how to count, they learn about the relationships between numbers (what is more, less or equal) and can conduct basic arithmetic operations with nonsymbolic objects such as dots. As children are taught more formal math skills, their improve nonsymbolic and symbolic (i.e. with Arabic numbers) math skills improve.
In this study, children will be followed from the second year of kindergarten (groep 2) up to the second grade of primary school (groep 4). During each academic year, they will be assessed on their preliminary math skills, formal math skills, and other skills like working memory. The aim is to understand the developmental pathways to proficiency and deficiency for mathematic achievement.
In addition, a number of trainings will be initiated by the University of Utrecht that aim to improve children’s knowledge and skills. These trainings will be directed towards (preliminary) math skills, but also more domain-general cognitive skills, i.e. working memory. The focus is on the effectiveness of these trainings.
The MathChild group from the University of Maastricht places attention on the neurological backgrounds of number knowledge: a selected number of children will be tested using instruments that measure brain activity. The focus of these measures will be on brain activity that takes place during execution of different tasks, and the areas of the brain in which this activity takes place.
With this interlinked study, the MathChild group aims to achieve a more complete view on the transition from nonsymbolic to symbolic math skills, and the way in which this transition can be mapped.