Maternal use of math facts to support girls’ math during card play

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Casey, B. M., Caola, L., Bronson, M. B., Escalante, D. L., Foley, A. E., & Dearing, E. (2020). Maternal use of math facts to support girls’ math during card play. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 68, 101136.


This study addresses girls’ (6–7-year-olds; N = 162) arithmetic skills within the context of learning environments provided by their mothers. Mothers and daughters were videotaped solving addition problems during card games. Maternal support was assessed through coding math fact hints and addition-strategy suggestions. Their first-grade daughters were then assessed on addition accuracy at end-of-year. Using regression analyses, results showed that maternal use of relevant math facts during the card games was associated with their child’s later addition accuracy. Two types of math facts showed this association: (a) those relevant to the numbers to be added on the cards, and (b) novel math facts provided by mothers to scaffold decomposition arithmetic strategy-use. These findings suggest the importance of supportive mathematical interactions during informal games as a possible source of developing girls’ early math skills. The study also identifies potentially valuable types of support for early arithmetic learning in informal contexts.