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The PLUS study: Play and Learning at Ulster and Sheffield

Research on early mathematical development shows that there are large differences in children’s mathematics skills even before they begin school.

The PLUS study aims to understand the relation between the activities that families do at home and children’s mathematics skills.

In this study we will develop an intervention to assess the causal relation between home mathematics activities and early mathematical development.

What are we doing in the PLUS study?

This study focuses on the home mathematics activities that families engage with their 3-5 year-olds.

There are three stages in this project

The first stage will use existing UK-based datasets to identify:

  • The types of home maths activities that families engage with and the relation to children’s early mathematics skills
  • Whether the frequency or range of home maths activities matter for early mathematical skills
  • Whether engagement with home maths activities varies by socio-economic status.

The second stage will:

  • Develop the basis for a new intervention to promote the use of home maths activities
  • Involve co-production workshops with practitioners and parents, to help to develop materials for families to use in their homes.

The third stage will involve a feasibility and early efficacy pilot study with a group of three- and four-year-olds. Parent-child pairs will be asked to complete the intervention and participate in qualitative interviews to test:

  • The feasibility of recruitment procedures
  • Acceptability of the intervention
  • Resources
  • Practicalities of conducting the outcome assessments

Pilot Study

The pilot study will:

  • Generate a preliminary effect size for the intervention
  • Provide further evidence on whether home mathematics activities are related to early mathematical skills
  • Evaluate recruitment and dropout rates
  • Collect further evidence on feasibility and acceptability from interviews with parents.

Outcomes of the research

The findings will be published in academic articles, reports, and policy briefs.

Practical workshops will be hosted for the participants in the project and local families.