Friday, April 04, 2008

Preschool children's narratives predict later math performance

In a Nature journal club note, Devlin points out work by O'Neill and colleagues, who examined whether language development in preschool children might be a predictor of later math ability, given that early aptitude for arithmetic is not a terribly good indicator of future math performance.
O'Neill and her team showed three- and four-year-old children a picture book and asked them to tell a story about what they saw...narrative measures of conjunction use, event content, perspective shift, and mental state reference were significantly predictive of later Math scores. The sophistication with which the children told their stories was important. The most significant feature of this sophistication was children's ability to switch perspectives as they related the stories. Crucially, this correlation pertained not to later performance in reading, spelling or general knowledge, but to future mathematical ability.

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