Tue, Feb 28, 2017 | updated 05:45 PM IST

Your mathematics skills will help your kids

Updated: Sep 03, 2016 18:54 IST

Washington D.C. [USA], Sept. 3 (ANI): A recent study has pointed out the parents, who excel in mathematics, produce children with the same skill.

The study highlights a distinct transfer of math skills from parent to a child, specifically exploring intergenerational transmission, the concept of parental influence on an offspring's behavior or psychology in mathematic capabilities.

Lead researcher Melissa E. Libertus said, "Our findings suggest an intuitive sense for numbers has been passed down--knowingly or unknowingly--from parent to child. Meaning, essentially, the math skills of parents tend to 'rub off' on their children. This research could have significant ramifications for how parents are advised to talk about math and numbers with their children and how teachers go about teaching children in classrooms."

Within the study, researchers found that the performance levels for early school-aged children on standardized mathematic tests could be reliably predicted by their parent's performance on similar examinations.

Specifically, they observed major correlations in parent-child performance in such key areas as mathematical computations, number-fact recall and word problem analysis.

Surprisingly, the researchers also found that children's intuitive sense of numbers- i.e. the ability to know that 20 jelly beans are more than 10 jelly beans without first counting them, is predicted by their parents' intuitive sense of numbers.

Researchers determined that such close result parallels could not have been produced through similar institutional learning backgrounds because their previous research showed that this intuitive sense of numbers is present in infancy.

The findings represent the first evidence of intergenerational transmission of unlearned, non-verbal numerical competence from parents to children.

While separate studies have pointed to the existence of intergenerational transmission of cognitive abilities, only a select few have examined parental influences in specific academic domains such as mathematics.

Libertus said the study is an important step towards understanding the multifaceted parental influences on children's mathematic abilities. Her future studies will examine why this transference of mathematic capability occurs.

"We believe the relationship between a parent and a child's math capabilities could be some combination of hereditary and environmental transmission. We look forward to future research endeavors that will explicitly examine the degree to which parents pass down key genetic traits and create an in-home learning environment that is conducive to producing high-achieving math students," he said.

For the present study, the mathematics abilities of parents and children were assessed using the appropriate subtests from the Woodcock-Johnson III Tests of Achievement, a nationally recognized standardized examination of baseline math ability.

Children completed three subtests designed to gauge their capabilities in mathematical computations, basic number-fact recall, and word problems with visual aids.

Parents completed a math fluency subtest as a measure of mathematical ability, and they were surveyed on the importance of children developing certain math skills.

The study sampled 54 children between the ages of 5 and 8 as well as 51 parents, 46 mothers and five fathers between the ages of 30 and 59.

Forty-six participating parents had at least a college degree and all possessed at least a high school diploma.

The study was published in Developmental Science journal. (ANI)

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