A new study says that the accuracy with which preschoolers estimate quantities, predicts their mathematics ability in elementary school.
Results of the new study show that children's ability to make numerical estimates in preschool predicted their performance on mathematical tests taken in elementary school, more than two years later.
The relationship appeared to be specific to math ability, because preschool number skills did not predict other abilities, such as expressive vocabulary or the ability to quickly name objects like letters or numbers.
"Children vary widely in both their numerical and non-numerical cognitive abilities at all ages," said Dr. Michele Mazzocco, Director of the Math Skills Development Project at Kennedy Krieger Institute and lead author of the study.
"Based on earlier data showing a relationship between intuitive number skills and formal mathematics, we were interested to learn whether numerical skills measured prior to schooling predict the level of mathematics skills children demonstrate years later, in a formal educational setting," she added.
The study was recently published in the journal PLoS ONE.