Purpura DJ, King YA, Rolan E, Hornburg CB, Schmitt SA, Hart SA and Ganley CM (2020) Examining the Factor Structure of the Home Mathematics Environment to Delineate Its Role in Predicting Preschool Numeracy, Mathematical Language, and Spatial Skills. Front. Psychol. 11:1925. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01925
Date of this Version
Home mathematics environment, mathematics, parent–child interactions, numeracy skills, mathematical language, spatial skills, preschool
A growing body of evidence suggests that the ways in which parents and preschool children interact in terms of home-based mathematics activities (i.e., the home mathematics environment; HME) is related to children’s mathematics development (e.g., primarily numeracy skills and spatial skills); however, this body of evidence is mixed with some research supporting the relation and others finding null effects. Importantly, few studies have explicitly examined the factor structure of the HME and contrasted multiple hypothesized models. To develop more precise models of how the HME supports children’s mathematics development, the structure of the HME needs to be examined and linked to mathematics performance. The purpose of this study was to extend prior work by replicating the factor structure of the HME (as one general HME factor and three specific factors of direct numeracy, indirect numeracy, and spatial) and using those factors to predict direct assessments of children’s numeracy, mathematical language, and spatial skills. It was hypothesized that the general HME factor would be related to each direct assessment, the direct numeracy factor would be related to both numeracy and mathematical language, and the spatial factor would be related to spatial skills. Using a sample of 129 preschool children (M age = 4.71 years, SD = 0.55; 46.5% female), a series of confirmatory factor analyses were conducted. Results diverged somewhat from prior work as the best fitting model was a bifactor model with a general HME factor and two specific factors (one that combined direct and indirect numeracy activities and another of spatial activities) rather than three specific factors as had previously been found. Further, structural equation modeling analyses suggested that, in contrast to expectations, only the direct + indirect numeracy factor was a significant predictor of direct child assessments when accounting for age, sex, and parental education. These findings provide evidence that a bifactor model is important in understanding the structure of the HME, but only one specific factor is related to children’s outcomes. Delineating the structure of the HME, and how specific facets of the HME relate to children’s mathematics skills, provides a strong foundation for understanding and enhancing the mechanisms that support mathematics development.