Series: Hear from the Experts

Cardinality is Critical Preschool Concept with Barbara Sarnecka

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After years of studying 3- and 4-year old children of diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds, Barbara Sarnecka, a professor of Cognitive Sciences at the University of California-Irvine, has zeroed in on the importance of cardinality as a critical preschool concept. This key understanding is important for children’s learning and seems to be a prerequisite for accurate assessment of their number knowledge.

Once they understand cardinality, we see big improvements on a whole range of conceptual number tasks that don’t even have to do with counting.

Sarnecka recommends a focus on spoken number words along with many opportunities to practice counting and practice subitizing in order for young children to learn about cardinality in preschool.

The Early Math Collaborative, supported by the CME Group Foundation and the Heising-Simons Foundation, held their first biennial conference in 2017 called Promising Math. A conference linking research and practice, the event brought experts from around the United States to discuss the understanding, teaching, and learning of mathematics for children between birth and eight years. The focus for 2017: Fostering access to mathematics for children who are English Language Learners (ELLs).