LJMU undertake unique study which will inform early years education



Child walking to school
Child walking to school

The Liverpool Early Number Skills Project, which has secured £150,000 funding from the Nuffield Foundation will examine the influence of the home learning environment (HLE) on the development of early number skills among pre-school children. The findings will identify the elements of the HLE that best support children in their learning.

The Liverpool Early Number Skills Project (LENS) is a longitudinal project that will track the development of children’s early number skills from their preschool year into primary school. Alongside the HLE, it will examine other factors including language and cognitive abilities, which may facilitate progress in numeracy skills. The study will identify the crucial building blocks for future mathematical aptitude.

Over the coming months, the researchers from LJMU’s School of Natural Sciences and Psychology will be recruiting nurseries, schools and preschools in the region to participate. 250 children will be recruited in their preschool year (the academic year when they turn four). The data will be used to answer three key research questions:

  • To what extent do preschool language and cognitive skills predict growth in early number skills?
  • To what extent do aspects of the home learning environment (such as number-oriented and language and literacy-oriented practices) predict growth in early number skills?
  • To what extent are the relationships between the quality of the home learning environment and early number skills direct and to what extent are they indirect via the promotion of language skills?

Dr Fiona Simmons from LJMU, Principal Investigator in the study said: “Our central focus will be on the extent that the HLE influences the development of early number skills, but we will also analyse other environmental factors including the quality of the preschool environment and socioeconomic status. Identifying the factors that support the development of early number skills is important because these skills provide the foundations of later mathematical attainment. The findings will go some way in determining the extent to which cognitive, language and environmental factors influence early numeracy with the aim of informing early childhood education policy and practice.”

LENS is funded by the Nuffield Foundation Research and Innovation grant entitled ‘Understanding the influence of cognition and the home learning environment on early number skills’. The Nuffield Foundation is an endowed charitable trust that aims to improve social well-being. It funds research and innovation in education and social policy. Find out more here about the Nuffield Foundation and the project.

If you are a nursery, preschool or school with a nursery class and would be interested in participating please contact us either by telephone 0151 904 633 or email LENS@ljmu.ac.uk.


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