Submitted by sam on Thu, 05/04/2023 - 12:10

The Importance of Early Intervention in Developmental Mathematics

Mathematics is a fundamental subject that lays the foundation for many career paths and life skills. However, students often struggle with developmental mathematics, leading to a lack of confidence and hindering future academic and career success. Early intervention in developmental mathematics is crucial to identify and address these challenges, providing students with the necessary tools to improve their math skills and overall confidence. In this blog, we will explore the importance of early intervention in developmental mathematics and how it can positively impact a student's academic and career success. We will also discuss various strategies that educators can use to implement early intervention effectively.

What is Developmental Mathematics?

Developmental math is learning the basic math concepts and skills needed to succeed in higher-level math courses. It covers a lot of topics like addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, as well as algebra, geometry, and more. Developmental math is important because it creates a foundation for more advanced math concepts needed in college and many careers.

Why is Early Intervention Important?

Early intervention is crucial in addressing developmental mathematics difficulties in students. It can help prevent future academic and career setbacks. By identifying and addressing math difficulties at an early stage, educators can support students in building a solid foundation in mathematics in order to improve their overall academic success. Research shows that providing early intervention enables students to tackle more complex mathematical concepts with confidence and ensure continued mathematical proficiency (Shanley, Clarke, Doable, Kurtz-Nelson & Fien, 2017).

Identifying Struggles Early

If a student is struggling with basic math concepts, early intervention can prevent them from falling behind. By identifying challenges early, educators can provide the support needed to prevent any widening of gaps in understanding.  By administering regular assessments, talking with students one-on-one and talking with parents, educators can get a better picture of students’ comprehension and areas of struggle to scaffold or differentiate more effectively (Wolf, 2007).

Building a Strong Foundation

Early help in math can help prevent negative feelings. Struggling with math can make students feel bad about themselves and create anxiety. This can lead to a negative attitude toward math, which can hurt their future success. Early help can prevent these negative feelings and help students to have a positive attitude toward math.

Preventing Negative Feelings

Early help in math can help prevent negative feelings such as lack of confidence and anxiety. When students lack confidence in their mathematical abilities, it can lead to a diminished willingness to engage with the subject, a reluctance to ask questions, and a decreased sense of curiosity (Chang, 2023). This can lead to a negative attitude toward math, which can impact their future success. Early support and intervention can prevent these negative feelings and help students to have a positive attitude toward math. Teaching math in an enjoyable yet challenging way requires understanding of standards and specific goals; the ways children think and learn about mathematics; and effective ways to teach, supporting children’s ways of learning (Clements and Sarama, 2021). Furthermore, understanding children’s thinking and development ensures we meet them where they are and move them forward (Clements, Guss & Sarama, 2022).

Strategies for Early Intervention

Here are some of the important strategies that educators and parents can use:

Adaptive Learning Technologies

Adaptive learning technologies, such as apps, games, and online tutorials, can be effective tools for early support in math. These technologies can help educators identify areas in which students encounter difficulties, thereby enabling them to adjust the curriculum to meet their unique needs. This activity-based approach makes the learning experience tailored to each student's abilities and can help them to succeed (Noreen & Rana, 2019).

Individualized Instruction and Support

Teachers can give individualized instruction and support to struggling students. Through one-on-one interactions, educators can identify the unique learning needs of each student, pinpointing their specific strengths and areas of growth. By tailoring instruction to address these areas, teachers can facilitate significant improvement and progress. This kind of support can also nurture a student's confidence, cultivate a sense of trust between the teacher and student and create an environment in which they feel comfortable asking questions (Bobis, Anderson, Martin & Way, 2011).

Group Learning Opportunities

Group learning opportunities have been widely recognized as an effective approach to support students who are facing challenges in math. By engaging in collaborative problem-solving activities and participating in discussion with their peers, students not only deepen their understanding of mathematical concepts but also develop social skills. In addition, research studies have shown that group learning fosters an environment where students feel more comfortable asking questions and seeking clarification from their peers, thereby promoting a growth mindset (Capar & Tarim, 2015). 


Early help in math is crucial for student success as it helps prevent negative feelings, builds a strong foundation for future learning, and identifies struggles early. Using strategies like adaptive learning technologies, individualized instruction, and group learning opportunities can all support early intervention in math. By providing this help early, educators help empower students to overcome challenges, fostering a positive mindset and setting them up long-term academic achievement. 

Works Cited

Bobis, J., Anderson, J., Martin, A., & Way, J. (2011). A model for mathematics instruction to enhance student motivation and engagement. Motivation and disposition: Pathways to learning, 73rd yearbook of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 1-12.

Capar, G., & Tarim, K. (2015). Efficacy of the cooperative learning method on mathematics achievement and attitude: A meta-analysis research. Educational Sciences: Theory and Practice, 15(2), 553-559.

Chang, I. (2023). Early numeracy and literacy skills and their influences on fourth-grade mathematics achievement: a moderated mediation model. Large-scale Assessments in Education, 11(1), 1-22.

Clements, D. H., Guss, S. S., & Sarama, J. (2022). Challenging but Achievable Math for Young Children. 

Mathematics Teacher: Learning and Teaching PK-12, 115(7), 468-475.

Noreen, R., & Rana, A. M. K. (2019). Activity-Based Teaching versus Traditional Method of Teaching in Mathematics at Elementary Level. Bulletin of Education and Research,41(2), 145-159.

Sarama, J. (2009). Learning and teaching early math: The learning trajectories approach. Routledge.

Shanley, L., Clarke, B., Doabler, C. T., Kurtz-Nelson, E., & Fien, H. (2017). Early number skills gains and mathematics achievement: Intervening to establish successful early mathematics trajectories. The Journal of Special Education, 51(3), 177-188.

Wolf, P. J. (2007). Academic improvement through regular assessment. Peabody Journal of Education, 82(4), 690-702.


What is developmental math?

Developmental math is learning basic math concepts and skills needed to succeed in higher-level math courses.

Why is early help in math important?

Early help in math is important because it can prevent negative feelings, build a strong foundation for future learning, and identify struggles early.

How can teachers help struggling students?

Teachers can help struggling students by giving individualized instruction and support, using adaptive learning technologies, and creating group learning opportunities.

How can parents support their children with math?

Parents can support their children with math by practicing math with them, helping them with their homework, and encouraging them to ask.

Early Intervention in Developmental Mathematics

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