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Imaginative Children Better in Math

The Winnipeg Sun , August 1, 2004


Math and storytelling may seem like very different abilities, but a new study by University of Waterloo scientist Daniela O'Neill suggests that preschool children's early storytelling abilities are predictive of their mathematical ability two years later. The study has just been published in the June 2004 issue of the journal First Language.

O'Neill looked at several aspects of children's storytelling ability. Two years later, the children were brought back to the laboratory and were given a number of tests of academic achievement that included a test of mathematical achievement. What O'Neill found was that those children who scored highly on the mathematics test had also scored highly on certain measures of their storytelling ability two years earlier.

This study suggests that building strong storytelling skills early in the preschool years may be helpful in preparing children for learning mathematics when they enter school.

O'Neill said,

"Almost all children experience the world of storytelling before they begin their journey into the world of mathematical thinking, and there's an intriguing possibility that providing children with experience with storytelling may later enhance their ability to tackle problems in the mathematical arena.

It is also a nice finding, I think, because storytelling is something every parent can easily do and foster with their children, without the need to buy any fancy toys or materials."

Pioneering developmental psychologist Jerome Bruner has written:

"stories are the way we understand the world around us, so it's possible that storytelling is a very fundamental form of human thinking"

Subjects Covered: education

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