Volume 13 Issue 2 (2024)

Investigation of Preschoolers’ Mathematical Skills: A Systematic Literature Review

pp. 31-51  |  Published Online: June 2024  |  DOI: 10.22521/edupij.2024.132.3

Antonia Petropoulou , Konstantinos Lavidas , Stamatis Papadakis


Background/purpose. Awareness of the mathematical skills and knowledge children possess in their early years is widely accepted. This includes various common positive aspects, not only for educators but also for researchers and policymakers. This study presents a systematic review conducted to meticulously identify empirical studies published in the Scopus-Index Journal database about the mathematical skills children aged 3 to 8 years old have mastered.

Materials/methods. This review followed the PRISMA guidelines and the research database comprised of Scopus-indexed journals. The technique followed used “keywords” and Boolean operators. The screening processes included reviewing abstracts, scanning complete texts of published articles, and rejecting those not meeting preset inclusion criteria. Moreover, systematic reviews, meta-analyses, and papers not written in English were also excluded. Of the 801 studies initially identified, a total of 15 empirical studies were included in the systematic review.

Results. Children master various math skills from a very young age, mainly in “numbers and operations”, but face difficulties in skills related to “algebra” as well as “geometry and measurement”.  Additionally, several preschoolers’ characteristics help to explain the acquisition of these skills, with “age” being the primary factor.  Researchers use various research instruments and mainly conduct individual semi-structured interviews. Children’s geometry skills and knowledge appear to have been studied to a small extent. The areas of “measurement” and “data analysis and probability” were found to be under active investigation.

Conclusion. It is worth noting that not only does a noticeable research gap exist for the math domains of “measurement,” “geometry,” and “data analysis and probability”. Factors that seem to affect young children’s math skills, such as “gender”, “parents’ educational level”, and “attendance to a preparatory preschool” need further investigation. The implications of the current study’s results extend beyond academia, providing valuable insights that educators and policymakers can leverage to enhance the quality of mathematics education during the early years period.

Keywords: mathematics, 3-8 years, kindergarten, competencies, knowledge, NCTM standards


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