The Preschool Math Project


Although math becomes a regular part of children’s later academic experiences, the value of supporting young children’s math skills is increasingly apparent (Mazzocco, Fiegnson, & Halberda, 2011). For example, researchers have uncovered strong connections between math skills measured at preschool (age 4) and math achievement at age 15, with growth in math skills during the preschool and early elementary years observed as an even stronger predictor of future success (Watts, Duncan, Siegler, & Davis-Kean, 2014).

Yet relative to literacy skills, the level of attention paid to math skills by educational, nonprofit, and philanthropic stakeholders is woefully low. A recent evaluation of early childhood programs found that children spent a mere 6% of their time during the day on math activities—less than half the time spent on literacy activities (Early, et al., 2010). In Minnesota, more than half of children from low income families fail to meet math proficiency standards in third grade—a number that rises to 63% by eighth grade.

The Program

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In 2017, ServeMinnesota partnered with PNC Bank in Minneapolis to begin development and piloting of a preschool math supplement to Reading Corps. In this multi-year project, we will develop and pilot a math program, evaluating and revising along the way.

Based on the work and input from leading scholars in math intervention, the program will adopt a multifaceted approach to improving core skills related to early understanding of number and operation. In addition to the regular use of assessment information to guide support, we will work with a team of experts to foster regular use of “math talk” during the school day, develop general and targeted activities for students, and create a set of materials to encourage math-related interactions at home.

As research becomes available on this work, we will share results here.

Want to learn more? Connect with us to discuss our work in this area.