Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Child Development


Early mathematics instruction has been linked to children's later outcomes in both literacy and mathematics. One important component of this instruction, teachers' mathematics language in the early childhood classroom, has been connected to children's mathematical gains. However, this work is lacking in both scope and depth. The objective of this study was to provide a review of the use of math language by early childhood teachers and address the issues neglected in the current literature. The study looks at: the type of content that teachers' mathematics language emphasizes, the mediating effects of settings on the mathematics language that is used, and the contributions of cognitive demand in teachers' mathematics talk on children's learning. The sample included 27 preschool teachers and 227 students. Archival data (gathered in 2008-2010) from the Early Mathematics Collaborative at Erikson Institute was used. This study employed three measures: Teachers' Mathematics Language Measure (TMLM), Measure of Cognitive Demand in Mathematics Language (MCDML) and the Child Mathematics Assessment (CMA). The results show that preschool teachers' number and operations language is predictive of children's outcomes in mathematics. The small group setting was also validated as an important setting for early math instruction. Additionally, the study illustrates an important connection between the cognitive demand teachers' language places on the child and children's development of mathematical concepts. This study provides significant information regarding the conceptualization of teachers' mathematics language and offers suggestions for professional development. Results show that teachers' can use mathematics language more intentionally and effectively in the early childhood classroom.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.