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Abstract

Parents are children’s first teachers; the learning interactions they engage in at home equip children with the foundational knowledge they need to be successful learners. This is particularly relevant in the domain of math, where children’s knowledge prior to the start of formal schooling is one of the most important predictors of future academic achievement (e.g., Claessens & Engel, 2013). Yet, many parents may not know that they play a foundational role in supporting their child’s math learning, and even if they do know this, they may lack knowledge about children’s early math development. Moreover, their own positive or negative attitudes about math may be related to their math engagement with their children. In three studies, I explore how parents’ child-relevant math attitudes are related to attitudes about their own math skills and to their math interactions with their children as well as to children’s math outcomes. In Study 1, I find that parents’ attitudes about their child’s math learning during the early school years are more strongly related to their self-relevant math attitudes than to their child’s actual math achievement. In Study 2, I explore how parents’ expectations and values for their child’s current and future math learning change with children’s schooling experience. Finally, in Study 3, I examine how parents’ expectations and value for their child’s current and future math success relates to the quality of their self-reported math input. Taken together, the results of these studies highlight potential mechanisms through which parents’ math attitudes may influence their engagement with their children around math, which in turn, are likely to relate to children's math outcomes.

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