“We Don’t Have Things for Counting”: An Exploration of Early Numeracy Skills and Home Learning Experiences of Children Growing up in Poverty in South Africa

Publication Name

Journal of Numerical Cognition


A child’s home environment has been shown to be related to the development of early numeracy skills in some countries. However, significant relationships between home learning environment and math achievement have not consistently been found, and likely vary across different cultural and socio-political contexts. Here we explored the home environment and early numeracy skills of 243 children (3-5 years), who were not attending preschool programmes in very low-income settings in Cape Town, South Africa. Caregivers completed a questionnaire including information regarding experiences of children in the home; children completed a number identification task, a counting task and the Give-N task. The amount of resources in the home learning environment (e.g. the number of books and toys), frequency of home learning activities caregivers did with their children, and caregiver levels of education and income were not associated with number knowledge. While the home learning environment has been shown to be important for developing early numeracy skills in previous research, this study suggests that factors other than the home learning environment may also be important targets to foster numeracy skills and school readiness in low-income settings in South Africa.

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Funding Sponsor

British Academy



Link to publisher version (DOI)