5th February 2016 at 00:00

When reading and maths add up

Children’s reading-comprehension skills at age 10 can predict their maths problem-solving skills at age 15, according to Finnish research. Piia Maria Björn from the University of Eastern Finland, along with two other academics, tested 10-year-olds’ text comprehension and basic calculation skills. The pupils’ ability to solve mathematical word problems was then assessed at 13 and 15. The tests showed that pupils’ text comprehension at age 10 predicted their ability to solve maths problems in secondary school.

Picture books boost number skills

In an unrelated study, academics show that reading picture books to children can help to develop their mathematical understanding. Marja van den Heuvel-Panhuizen from Utrecht University in the Netherlands, along with academics from Cyprus and Austria, worked with 384 children from 18 Dutch kindergartens. They found that children who were read picture books for three months performed better in number, measuring and geometry tests. The intervention was particularly effective for girls.

Narrative necessity

Reception children who speak well go on to become Year 1 and 2 pupils who can write well, Italian academics have found. Giuliana Pinto, Christian Tarchi and Lucia Bigozzi, from the University of Florence, spent three years studying the verbal and written competence of 109 schoolchildren. They asked children to produce an oral narrative in Reception, and a written narrative in Years 1 and 2. When the coherence and structure of the narratives were examined, the academics found a relationship between those children who spoke best and those who wrote best. They suggested that it was therefore important for children to practise oral narratives in Reception and Year 1.

Education’s economic impact

Education is a leading factor in determining a country’s economic growth, employment and earnings, according to a new study. Ludger Woessmann, director of the Centre for the Economics of Education at the University of Munich, conducted an analysis of recent research and found that education played a crucial role in the prosperity of individuals and of society. The academic argues that ignoring the economic element of education endangers the prosperity of future generations. He suggests that policymakers interested in ensuring their country’s continued prosperity should pay particular attention to educational outcomes.


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