learning from “experts” have difficulty sustaining family participation long enough to be successful.

Conclusion 20: Educational programs for parents have the potential to enhance the mathematical experiences provided by parents; however, there is little evidence about how to design such programs to make them effective.

The resources available to parents and other caregivers as well as those available through informal educational environments (e.g., libraries, museums, community centers) can also be an effective mechanism for supporting children’s mathematics learning. Educational television programming and software, for example, can teach children about mathematics. The committee reviewed research on software and educational programs, as well as models of community-based programs that promote mathematics, and concludes:

Conclusion 21: Given appropriate mathematical content and adult support, the media (e.g., television, computer software) as well as community-based learning opportunities (e.g., museums, libraries, community centers) can engage and educate young children in mathematics. Such resources can provide additional mathematics learning opportunities for young children, especially those who may not have access to high-quality early education programs.


As the committee’s conclusions make clear, there is much work to be done to provide young children with the learning opportunities in mathematics that they need. Thus, the committee thinks it is critically important to begin an intensive national effort to enhance opportunities to learn mathematics in early childhood settings to ensure that all children enter school with the mathematical foundations they need for academic success. The research-based principles and mathematics teaching-learning paths described in this report can also reduce the disparity in educational outcomes between children from low-SES backgrounds and their higher SES peers.

The research to date about how young children learn key concepts in mathematics has clear implications for practice, yet these findings are not widely known or implemented by early childhood educators or even those who teach early childhood educators. This report has focused on synthesizing and translating this evidence base into a usable form that can be used to guide a national effort. Thus the committee recommends:

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