Linguistic and Spatial Skills Predict Early Arithmetic Development via Counting Sequence Knowledge


  • This research was funded by a grant from the Academy of Finland to the Finnish Center of Excellence in Learning and Motivation Research (213486).


Utilizing a longitudinal sample of Finnish children (ages 6–10), two studies examined how early linguistic (spoken vs. written) and spatial skills predict later development of arithmetic, and whether counting sequence knowledge mediates these associations. In Study 1 (N = 1,880), letter knowledge and spatial visualization, measured in kindergarten, predicted the level of arithmetic in first grade, and later growth through third grade. Study 2 (n = 378) further showed that these associations were mediated by counting sequence knowledge measured in first grade. These studies add to the literature by demonstrating the importance of written language for arithmetic development. The findings are consistent with the hypothesis that linguistic and spatial skills can improve arithmetic development by enhancing children's number-related knowledge.