The role of non-symbolic and symbolic skills in the development of early numerical cognition from preschool to kindergarten age
Number of pages
SourceJournal of Cognition and Development, 22, 1, (2021), pp. 68-83
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ BSI OLO
Journal of Cognition and Development
SubjectLearning and Plasticity
The development of (early) numerical cognition builds on children's ability to understand and manipulate quantities and numbers. However, previous research did not find conclusive evidence on the role of symbolic and non-symbolic skills in the development of (early) numerical cognition. The aim of the current study was to clarify the relation between different types of non-symbolic quantity skills, symbolic numerical skills and early numerical cognition. A sample of 43 children was tested at the age of 3.5 years and at the age of 5 years. At 3.5 years, non-symbolic number line estimation, non-symbolic quantity comparison and symbolic enumerating skills were measured. At 5 years, early numerical cognition, defined as symbolic number line estimation and counting, were measured It was found that non-symbolic number line estimation at 3.5 years could predict both symbolic number line estimation and counting at 5 years. Enumerating at 3.5 years could only predict counting at 5 years. This suggests that both non-symbolic and symbolic skills play a role in the development of early numerical cognition, although enumerating skills do not transfer to all types of early numerical cognition. Furthermore, not all non-symbolic skills seem to play an important role in the development of early numerical cognition. The results suggest that non-symbolic quantity comparison does not contribute much to the development of early numerical cognition. Associations between non-symbolic quantities and space, operationalized here as non-symbolic number line estimation, seem central to the development of early math from preschool to kindergarten age.
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