Original Research

Counting skills intervention for low-performing first graders

Riikka Mononen, Pirjo Aunio
South African Journal of Childhood Education | Vol 6, No 1 | a407 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajce.v6i1.407 | © 2016 Riikka Mononen, Pirjo Aunio | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 03 March 2016 | Published: 23 September 2016

About the author(s)

Riikka Mononen, Department of Special Needs Education, University of Oslo, Norway and Department of Childhood Education, University of Johannesburg, South Africa
Pirjo Aunio, Department of Childhood Education, University of Johannesburg, South Africa and Department of Teacher Education, Special Education, University of Helsinki, Finland


Background: It is important to provide early educational support for children having weak mathematical skills, in order to prevent possible later mathematical learning difficulties. Currently, there is a lack of research-based mathematical intervention programmes for teachers to use.
Aim: This study investigated the impact of counting skills intervention for Finnish first graders
with low performance. In addition, the relations between inductive reasoning, language and
mathematical skills were examined.
Setting: This study applied a quasi-experimental design using control groups.
Methods: Intervention was provided in small groups 12 times during 8 weeks. The development of intervention children (LOWi, n = 11) was compared to the development of low-performing (LOWc, n = 26) and typically performing (TYPc, n = 114) children.
Results: The LOWi group made significantly greater gains in their mathematical performance from Time 1 to Time 2, compared with the LOWc and TYPc groups. Children with low performance in mathematical skills showed lower performance also in their inductive reasoning and reading fluency skills than the TYP children.
Conclusion: A relatively short counting skills intervention that applied explicit teaching showed promising effects in improving low-performing children’s mathematical performance as a supplemental instruction.


counting skills intervention; first grade; inductive reasoning; language skills; low performance


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