Investigating associations between parent engagement and toddlers' mathematics performance

Alex M. Silver, Mackenzie Swirbul, Catherine S. Tamis-LeMonda, Natasha Cabrera, Melissa E. Libertus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Early mathematics skills relate to later mathematics achievement and educational attainment, which in turn predict career choice, income, health and financial decision-making. Critically, large differences exist among children in early mathematics performance, with parental mathematics engagement being a key predictor. However, most prior work has examined mothers' mathematics engagement with their preschool- and school-aged children. In this Registered Report, we tested concurrent associations between mothers' and fathers' engagement in mathematics activities with their 2- to 3-year-old toddlers and children's mathematics performance. Mothers and fathers did not differ in their engagement in mathematics activities, and both parents' mathematics engagement related to toddlers' mathematics skills. Fathers' mathematics engagement was associated with toddlers' number and mathematics language skills, but not their spatial skills. Mothers' mathematics engagement was only associated with toddlers' mathematics language skills. Critically, associations may be domain-specific, as parents' literacy engagement did not relate to measures of mathematics performance above their mathematics engagement. Mothers' and fathers' mathematics activities uniquely relate to toddlers' developing mathematics skills, and future work on the nuances of these associations is needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)412-445
Number of pages34
JournalBritish Journal of Developmental Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2023


  • home literacy
  • home numeracy
  • mathematics language
  • number knowledge
  • spatial skills
  • toddlers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Developmental Neuroscience


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