Verbal and action-based measures of kindergartners' SFON and their associations with number-related utterances during picture book reading

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Young children's spontaneous focusing on numerosity (SFON) as measured by experimental tasks is related to their mathematics achievement. This association is hypothetically explained by children's self-initiated practice in number recognition during everyday activities. As such, experimentally measured SFON should be associated with SFON exhibited during everyday activities and play. However, prior studies investigating this assumed association provided inconsistent findings.


We aimed to address this issue by investigating the association between kindergartners' SFON as measured by two different experimental tasks and the frequency of their number-related utterances during a typical picture book reading activity.


Participants were 65 4- to 6-year-olds in kindergarten (before the start of formal education).


Kindergartners individually participated in two sessions. First, they completed an action-based SFON Imitation task and a verbal SFON Picture task, with a short visuo-motor task in between. Next, children were invited to spontaneously comment on the pictures of a picture book during a typical picture book reading activity.


Results revealed a positive association between children's SFON as measured by the Picture task and the frequency of their number-related utterances during typical picture book reading, but no such association for the Imitation task.


Our findings indicate that children with higher SFON as measured by a verbal experimental task also tend to focus more frequently on number during verbal everyday activities, such as picture book reading. In view of the divergent associations between our SFON measures under study with everyday number activities, the current data suggest that SFON may not be a unitary construct and/or might be task-dependent.

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