The Multifactorial Nature of Early Numeracy and Its Stability

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Early numeracy is a robust predictor of later mathematical abilities. So far, early numeracy has typically been presented as a unitary or two-factorial construct. Nevertheless, there is recent evidence suggesting that it may also be reflected by more basic numerical competences. However, the structure and stability of such a multifactorial model of early numeracy over time has not been investigated yet. In the present study, we used data from a large, longitudinal sample (N = 1292) in the United States with assessments of math ability in prekindergarten and kindergarten to evaluate both the factorial structure of early numeracy and its stability over time. Confirmatory factor analysis identified four distinct basic numerical competences making up early numeracy in prekindergarten: patterning/geometry, number sense, arithmetic, and data analysis/statistics. Stability as tested by means of measurement invariance indicated configural invariance of these four factors from prekindergarten to kindergarten. This reflected that early numeracy in kindergarten was made up by the same four basic numerical competences as in prekindergarten and thus seemed rather stable over the course of preschool. These findings may not only have implications for research on numerical cognition but particularly for diagnostic processes or the development of interventions in educational practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number518981
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
StatePublished - Nov 4 2020


  • basic numerical competences
  • early numeracy
  • mathematical abilities
  • predictor
  • stability
  • structure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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