Western Undergraduate Psychology Journal

Article Title

Why Asian Preschool Children Mathematically Outperform Preschool Children from Other Countries


This paper examines why Asian children mathematically outperform children from other countries prior to the start of formal education. A review of the literature, comparing preschoolers from Asian and Western cultures, revealed two important factors: linguistic and parental influences. Studies show that Asian languages use Chinese number words, which simply and consistently represent numbers, providing Asian children with a head start in basic math skills. Furthermore, the Chinese language tends to use number words more frequently, providing more exposure to numerical concepts. Studies also show that Asian parents, compared to parents from Western cultures, tend to promote the development of strong basic math skills. Although it is evident that both linguistic and parental influences provide Asian preschoolers with a stronger mathematical foundation, it is difficult to determine the relative contribution of each factor. Future studies are required to disentangle and isolate the effects of language and parental influences on preschoolers’ math performance.

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