Relational Quantitative Reasoning in Kindergarten Predicts Mathematical Achievement in Third Grade


  • Lennart Schalk
  • Henrik Saalbach
  • Roland H. Grabner
  • Elsbeth Stern


Tremendous variation in elementary school children’s mathematical achievement can partly be traced back to differences in early domain-specific quantitative competencies. While previous research mainly focused on numerical magnitude representation and counting, we tested the long-term effects of relational quantitative reasoning. Before children (N = 51) entered school (i.e. at age 5-6), we assessed this competence with a test that required no knowledge about Arabic numerals. Two and a half years later, when children were in third grade of elementary school, we gauged mathematical achievement, general reasoning ability, and reading skills. A multiple regression analysis with mathematical achievement as outcome variable revealed a small but unique impact of children’s relational quantitative reasoning in kindergarten on their later mathematical achievement after controlling for general reasoning and reading abilities. Thus, a considerable amount of individual differences in mathematics achievement in elementary school results from differences in early relational quantity understanding that emerge before systematic instruction starts.