Hong Kong young children’s home numeracy environment and its relation to their interest in mathematics

Sum Kwing CHEUNG, Kit Ying Suzannie LEUNG

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers

Abstract

Home numeracy environment can be broadly defined to include parents’ attitudes towards mathematics and their children’s mathematical learning, as well as numeracy activities that parents engage children in at home. Though home numeracy environment is often found to be associated with children’s early numeracy skills, little is known about its relation with children’s early interest in mathematics. In fact, children’s interest in mathematics plays an important role in their journey of mathematical learning. The present study therefore aimed to explore the home numeracy environment experienced by Hong Kong young children and examine its relation to their interest in mathematics. Specifically, there were four research questions: (1) Did Hong Kong parents regard mathematics as more dynamic or static in nature? (2) Did Hong Kong parents emphasize mastery or achievement goals in mathematics more for their young children? (3) What was the most and least frequently occurred numeracy activities among Hong Kong children? (4) What were the relations between Hong Kong parents’ beliefs about the nature of mathematics, achievement goals in mathematics for their children, frequency of home numeracy activities, and their children’s interest in mathematics?
To answer our research questions, data were collected via questionnaire from 330 Hong Kong parents with children studying at the second or third year of kindergarten. Results of paired samples t-tests showed that Hong Kong parents in our sample were inclined to regard mathematics as dynamic rather than static in nature. Moreover, they tended to emphasize mastery goals more than achievement goals in mathematics for their children. Meanwhile, results of repeated measures analyses showed that the seven home numeracy activities under investigation differed significantly in their frequency. Post-hoc analyses revealed that talking about and practicing counting in everyday activities occurred the most frequently, whereas reading mathematics-related children’s books occurred the least frequently. Last but not least, linear regression analysis showed that after controlling for children’s gender and grade level, children’s interest in mathematics was positively associated with parents’ level of endorsement of the dynamic nature of mathematics and the frequency of home numeracy activities, but negatively associated with parents’ emphasis of achievement goals in mathematics for their children. Parents’ level of endorsement of the static nature of mathematics and emphasis of mastery goals in mathematics, on the other hand, were not significant correlates.
Findings of the present study suggest that parents play a critical role in the development of early interest in mathematics. It is therefore important for early childhood educators to provide parents with support on how to foster young children’s interest in mathematics in their everyday life. Possible strategies include helping parents to recognize that mathematics can be learnt through open-ended inquiry tasks, and sharing with parents examples of numeracy activities that they can engage young children in at home. Copyright © 2019 20th Pacific Early Childhood Education Research Association International Conference (PECERA).
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019

Citation

Cheung, S. K., & Leung, S. K. Y. (2019, July). Hong Kong young children’s home numeracy environment and its relation to their interest in mathematics. Paper presented at The 20th Pacific Early Childhood Education Research Association International Conference (PECERA): Childhood of Tomorrow, Howard Civil Service International House, Taipei, Taiwan.

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