Early signs of mathematical learning difficulties

Early mathematical skills, which are learnt before comprehensive school in most countries, strongly predict later mathematical skills (Jordan, Glutting, & Ramineni, 2010; Kurdek & Sinclair, 2001; Lachance & Mazzocco, 2006). Studies using distinct mathematical subskills to predict later composite scores in mathematics provide more elaborate information. More precisely, counting skills (Aubrey et al., 2006; Krajewski & Schneider, 2009), basic arithmetic skills (Aunola et al., 2004), counting, number knowledge, nonverbal calculation, story problems and number combinations (Jordan, Kaplan, Locuniak, & Ramineni, 2007), calculation, number line and magnitude comparison (LeFevre et al., 2010), number reading (Passolunghi, Vercelloni, & Schadee, 2007) and mathematical-logical principles (Aunio & Niemivirta, 2010; Desoete, Stock, Schepens, Baeyens, & Roeyers, 2009; Stock, Desoete, & Roeyers, 2009) have been found to be good predictors of later mathematics performance. In other words, if a child has low early mathematical performance before school, she or he will most likely have problems learning mathematics in school (Jordan, Kaplan, Oláh, & Locuniak, 2006). In a worst case scenario, the child’s weak early numeracy skills develop into mathematical learning difficulties later on. Children with mathematical learning difficulties have significant problems in basic arithmetic skills, which make mathematics learning at school very difficult and diminish the possibilities for later occupational education (Mazzocco, 2007; World Health Organization, 1992).

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