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#9: Using Math Talk With Preschoolers to Support Learning

Featuring Dr. Sudha Swaminathan and Dr. Jeffrey Trawick-Smith

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While many preschool classrooms use explicit, teacher-directed activities to help children develop basic math skills, recent research from the Center shows that a lot of math learning occurs within the context of classroom play, especially when teachers are talking with children about how to solve problems involving number. In e-clip #9, Dr. Sudha Swaminathan and Dr. Jeffrey Trawick-Smith discuss the importance of talking with children about numbers and encouraging them to explain their mathematical processes. When teachers and children engage in regular conversations about quantities, measurement, and size, children will gain mathematical and general cognitive skills.

Discussion Questions for Early Childhood Teachers and Administrators

  1. In which centers do we typically support children's math learning? How can we expand this learning into other centers?
  2. What kinds of math concepts do we regularly talk about with children? What are some additional concepts we can fit into our daily routine?
  3. How can we plan ahead and be prepared to engage children in math talk during spontaneous moments, particularly during children's play?
  4. What kinds of activities can we plan to ensure rich discussions around number and mathematical reasoning?
  5. What are some ways we might respond to a child who has made an error in their counting or mathematical reasoning?


This video grew out of a study funded by the Spencer Foundation. Watch a video about the study and its major findings here.  

Video production credits for Using Math Talk With Preschoolers to Support Learning

Executive Producer: Julia DeLapp

Producer/Director: Denise Matthews

Production Coordinator: Ken Measimer

Videographer/Editor: Sean Leser (Eastern student)

Production Assistants: Lauren Bedard and Amy Dillon (Eastern students)

Featured Teacher: Cynthia DeJesús


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