The Role of Gesture in Children's Learning to Count

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The role of spontaneous gesture was examined in children's counting and in their assessment of counting accuracy. Eighty-five 2-, 3-, and 4-year-olds counted 6 sets of 2-, 4-, and 6-object arrays. In addition, children assessed the counting accuracy of a puppet whose gestures varied as he counted (i.e., gesture matched the number words, gesture mismatched the number words, no gesture at all). Results showed that the correspondence of children's speech and gesture varied systematically across the age groups and that children adhered to the one-to-one correspondence principle in gesture prior to speech. Moreover, children's correspondence of speech and gesture, adherence to the one-to-one principle in gesture, and assessment of the puppet's counting accuracy were related to children's counting accuracy. Findings are discussed in terms of the role that gesture may play in children's understanding of counting.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Nebraska–Lincoln

Publication date: December 1, 1999

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