Math in the Early Grades: A Predictor for Academic Success

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500x500bb-80-3Want your early learners to have long-term reading success? Teach them math.

That’s the lesson from recent research that links high-quality math instruction at the earliest grade levels to improved academic success through high school—and not just in math‑related subjects. Research shows effective early math instruction also leads to later success in reading skills and oral language abilities like vocabulary, inference, independence and grammatical complexity. In fact, some research even shows early math scores are a better indicator of later reading success than early reading scores.

Those results are consistent with what we’ve seen with our research and curriculum here at Waterford: Math skills have a tremendous impact on early literacy. That’s why we’ve combined preschool through second grade reading instruction with early math and science for more than 10 years—and why Waterford is proven to result in positive, long-term gains for students

And that makes Waterford unique; it’s the only curriculum on the market to provide such a blended approach. Moreover, our preschool curriculum SmartStart, blends several subjects, including reading, math, science, social studies, executive function and cognition.

Skills such as counting may seem straightforward, but very basic math concepts are actually some of the most difficult skills young children learn. Early math skills also mirror early literacy skills. When you view them in their most basic building-block form, you can see that both utilize skills like sorting, sequence and patterns.

Understanding this, our curriculum designers blend activities with intentional technology use and direct instruction to help children master these foundational skills. It takes a variety of experiential learning for children to make deeper, lasting connections; Waterford curriculum provides that.

Unfortunately, this proven, blended approach is not common. Even though it is crucial for later academic success, most pre-K and early grade-level curricula on the market lack effective integrated math instruction.

Even when other programs claim to include math as part of their curriculum, research by Dr. Douglas Clements found that “evaluations show little or no learning of mathematics in these schools.” Clements writes, “Children have a high capacity to learn mathematics but often do not have the opportunity to do so…We need to shift our mindset from ‘reading only’ early intervention strategies.”


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