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Families Count: Learning Early Math Skills at Home

Research Team


Principal Investigator: Amy Napoli

Funding Information

Funding Agency: Nebraska EPSCoR

Award Date: Jan 1, 2022

End Date: Dec 31, 2027


Children's early mathematics skills are related to later educational attainment and socioeconomic status. Because most inequalities in children's math skills are present before kindergarten, there is a critical need for evidence-based strategies for providing children with mathematics learning in early informal environments, such as the home. 

Research shows the home math environment is related to the development of children's math skills. However, many parents report feeling unsure of how to implement mathematics activities at home, and are uncomfortable talking to their children about mathematics concepts. Often, parents do not have precise knowledge of their children's math skills.

A critical need exists to identify cost-effective, feasible ways to support parents in creating a supportive home math environment for their preschool-aged children. 

This project aims promote young children's math skills in the home environment by fostering parents understanding of and efficacy in supporting early math development, which is well aligned with the NSFs Education and Human Resources programs mission to close STEM achievement gaps.

Researchers seek to understand how the Families Count program, a low-cost, text message-based home math intervention, relates to children's math skills. Families Count, which is designed for parents of preschool-aged children, consists of a brief informational meeting, text messages and a math engagement kit and directly targets parents' understanding of early math skills and efficacy in engaging young children in math activities, and provides strategies for integrating math into children's daily activities.

This project aims to:

  • Determine the effectiveness of Families Count in improving children's math skills and the components necessary for its effectiveness; 
  • Determine whether a tailored program is more effective than a standard, one-size-fits-all program in improving children's math skills; 
  • Provide training to child care centers on the importance of the home math environment and offer the program to families;
  • Integrate Families Count into permanent, core Extension programing; and
  • Train Extension professionals nationally to implement Families Count.

Early Childhood Education and Development, Academic Intervention & Learning

Researchers are leading a project to promote young children's math skills in the home environment.