High-quality preschool mathematics experiences can have long-term benefits for young children—particularly children from low-income families. And research on preschool classroom environments suggests that teachers’ beliefs about intelligence and learning goals influence these same beliefs in their students. But in many preschool settings, early childhood teachers are not well prepared to teach mathematics in a developmentally appropriate way and may not provide many opportunities for children to make sense of numbers, patterns, and relationships.

Through the Games for Young Mathematicians project, EDC is researching the use of games to foster early mathematical learning in preschool settings. The project introduces teachers to developmentally appropriate games and to the concepts of mastery motivation and growth mindset. It helps the teachers integrate these games into their classrooms and then examines whether these games help children develop vital mathematical and perseverance skills.

Key Activities

As part of the Games for Young Mathematicians project, EDC researchers and professional developers carry out the following activities:

  • Provide professional development that shows preschool teachers how to scaffold children’s mathematics learning, play mathematics games, and encourage persistence at challenging tasks for a range of early learners
  • Study the impact of the professional development intervention on children’s mathematics learning, mastery motivation, and school readiness skills
  • Identify effective ways to intentionally incorporate mathematics games into preschool classroom routines


  • The project has targeted 85 teachers and 800 preschoolers in Head Start centers.
  • Findings from this study will help preschool teachers identify simple but powerful ways to enhance mathematics instruction. They will also be relevant to policymakers looking to better prepare students for mathematics success in grades K–12.

Learn More

Games for Young Mathematicians
Kristen Reed
Jessica Young
National Science Foundation