Children's early numerical capacities form the building blocks for later arithmetic proficiency. Linear number placements and counting skills are indicative of mapping, as an important precursor to arithmetic skills, and have been suggested to be of vital importance to arithmetic development. The current study investigated whether fostering mapping skills is more efficient through a counting or a number line training program. Effects of both programs were compared through a quasi-experimental design, and moderation effects of age and socio-economic status (SES) were investigated. Ninety kindergartners were divided into three conditions: a counting, a number line, and a control condition. Pretests and posttests included an arithmetic (addition) task and a battery of number sense tasks (comparison, number lines, and counting). Results showed significantly greater gains in arithmetic, counting, and symbolic number lines in the counting training group than in the control group. The number line training group did not make significantly greater gains than the control group. Training gains were moderated by age, but not SES. We concluded that counting training improved numerical capacities effectively, whereas no such improvements could be found for the number line training. This suggests that only a counting approach is effective for fostering number sense and early arithmetic skills in kindergarten. Future research should elaborate on the parameters of training programs and the consequences of variation in these parameters.
- Number line
- Number sense