Publication Date



In this article, we present the results of an 11-month longitudinal study (beginning when children were 6 years old) focusing on measures of the approximate number sense (ANS) and knowledge of the Arabic numeral system as possible influences on the development of arithmetic skills. Multiple measures of symbolic and nonsymbolic magnitude judgment were shown to define a unitary factor that appears to index the efficiency of an ANS system, which is a strong longitudinal correlate of arithmetic skills. However, path models revealed that knowledge of Arabic numerals at 6 years was a powerful longitudinal predictor of the growth in arithmetic skills, whereas variations in magnitude-comparison ability played no additional role in predicting variations in arithmetic skills. These results suggest that verbal processes concerned with learning the labels for Arabic numerals, and the ability to translate between Arabic numerals and verbal codes, place critical constraints on arithmetic development.


Institute for Learning Sciences and Teacher Education

Document Type

Journal Article

Access Rights

ERA Access

Access may be restricted.