The committee was particularly concerned about mathematics teaching and learning for children from low socioeconomic backgrounds because of the particular challenges they face that can have an impact on their knowledge and competence in mathematics. For example, they may be more likely to attend schools with fewer resources and have less support for mathematics at home. Thus, although children with very low and high mathematics knowledge and competence are found across all SES groups, those with low SES will need particular attention. Importantly, providing young children with high-quality mathematics instruction can help to ameliorate systematic inequities in educational outcomes and later career opportunities.

Conclusion 5: Young children in lower socioeconomic groups enter school, on average, with less mathematics knowledge and skill than their higher socioeconomic status peers. Formal schooling has not been successful in closing this gap for low socioeconomic status children.

In addition to needing instructional support in mathematics, evidence indicates that young children also need to be supported in their social-emotional development as an integral part of their education. Specifically, during the early education years, children develop general competencies and approaches to learning that include their capacity to regulate their emotions and behavior, to focus their attention, and to communicate effectively with others. In turn, mathematics learning can help to promote the development of these general competencies.

Conclusion 6: All learning, including learning mathematics, is facilitated when young children also are developing skills to regulate their own learning, which includes regulating emotions and behavior, focusing their attention, and communicating effectively with others.


On the basis of research evidence about children’s knowledge and competence during the early childhood years, as well as on the established consensus of the early childhood mathematics community (see, for example, the NCTM Curriculum Focal Points), the committee identified two areas of mathematics on which to focus: (1) number, including whole number, operations, and relations, and (2) geometry, spatial thinking, and measurement. In each of these areas, the committee offers guidance about the teaching-learning paths based on what is known from developmental and classroom-based research. Each child’s progression along these mathematics teaching-learning paths is a function of his or her own level of develop-

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