Parental scaffolding and children's math ability: The type of activities matters

Qi HUANG, Jin SUN, Yi Hung Eva LAU, Yanling ZHOU

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review


A growing body of research has shown that parent–child math activities predict children's math competence. However, observational studies are limited. This study investigated maternal and paternal scaffolding behaviours in three types of parent–child math activities (i.e., worksheet, game and application activities) and their associations with children's formal and informal math abilities. Ninety-six 5–6-year-olds participated in this study with their mothers and fathers. All children completed three activities with their mothers and three comparable activities with their fathers. Parental scaffolding was coded for each parent–child dyadic activity. Children's formal and informal math abilities were tested individually using the Test of Early Mathematics Ability. Results showed that both mothers' and fathers' scaffolding in application activities significantly predicted their children's formal math ability even after controlling for background variables and their scaffoldings in the other two types of math activities. The findings highlight the importance of parent–child application activities in children's math learning. Copyright © 2023 British Psychological Society.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)246-258
JournalBritish Journal of Developmental Psychology
Issue number3
Early online dateMar 2023
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2023


Huang, Q., Sun, J., Lau, E. Y. H., & Zhou, Y.-L. (2023). Parental scaffolding and children's math ability: The type of activities matters. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 41(3), 246-258.


  • Formal and informal math abilities
  • Home math activities
  • Parental scaffolding


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